Chance for young hopefuls to push for India call-up

The home team’s coach Ashish Kapoor had not seen Nathu Singh bowl and so he asked him on Wednesday night at the team hotel to show his action on his smart phone. Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara who has faced some of the best fast bowlers in business did not face Nathu Singh at nets on Thursday afternoon.

K.L. Rahul, who did not figure in the shortest formats of the game against the visitors, will get a taste of the classy and frightening pace battery they would be up against in the upcoming four-Test series commencing at Mohali on November 5.   -  Bhagya Prakash K.

Bowling to a handful of BCCI Presidents XI batsmen, Nathu Singh looked far from a tearaway fast bowler from the first floor balcony of the Cricket Club of India (CCI); but apparently cricketers like Rahul Dravid and Gautam Gambhir believe that the 20-year-old Team Rajasthan tyro can be nurtured into something big.

Moreover it’s been reported that chief coach at the MRF Pace Foundation, Glenn McGrath has identified Nathu Singh’s ability to get the ball back into the right hander.

So the Nathu Singh fuss has some credible voice behind it and it would be interesting to see how the young pacer performs against a solid South African batting line-up on Friday when his team President's XI takes on the touring South Africans.

The national selectors, on their part, have found out in recent times that India’s Test captain has not had the luxury of fielding a healthy team of fast bowlers. National selector from East Zone Saba Karim will convey his assessment of Nathu Singh to the other four selectors after the warm-up game.

The rookie was given a half hour work out on the eve of the match and once he rejoiced at having forced K.L.Rahul lob a catch to an imaginary fielder on the onside.

He has played four Ranji Trophy matches, bowled 670 balls and captured 12 wickets at 29.33 with a best of 7 for 87 against Delhi in his debut match at Jaipur.

Thereafter he must have learned that fast bowling is all about hard work, bending ones back and quickly also lapping up tricks of the trade. His figures in the next three matches were 2 for 77, 1 for 67 and 1 for 96, all on wickets that are generally regarded far from seamer friendly.

The home team’s coach Ashish Kapoor had not seen Nathu Singh bowl and so he asked him on Wednesday night at the team hotel to show his action on his smart phone. Skipper Cheteshwar Pujara who has faced some of the best fast bowlers in business did not even face Nathu Singh at nets on Thursday afternoon.

"Most of us have not seen him bowl and so we will see him in action on Friday," said Kapoor.

"I won’t draw comparisons him with them (Ishant, Umesh and Aaaron). But he’s talented and he has a bright future. The selectors have selected him for the match," said Pujara.

While the focus is on Nathu Singh, the two-day game also offers an opportunity for the likes of Mumbai’s Shreyas Iyer, Karnataka’s Karun Nair, Delhi’s Unmukt Chand and of course Pujara and Rahul (both in the Indian team for the first two Test matches) to find out what the South African bowling is capable of. Seamer Vernon Philander, off break bowlers Simon Harmer and Dane Piedt and leg spinner Imran Tahir may bowl a lot of overs.

The touring team has been joined by Australian Michael Hussey, who has been the batting consultant from the World Cup. Hussey was part of the support staff for the three match Twenty20 series. According to team’s media officer Hussey will return to Australia on November 3.

The South African team that will led by Hashim Amla in the Test series, has been bolstered by the arrival of batsmen Temba Bavuma, Stiaan van Zyl and wicketkeeper Dane Vilas. Dean Elgar replaced the injured Jean Paul Duminy during the ODI series.

"I will talk to the South African team tomorrow morning and then I would know how the match will be played," said Pujara, when asked if the match will be 12-a-side or something different.

The teams (from):

Board President XI: Cheteshwar Pujara (captain), K. L. Rahul, Unmukt Chand, Karun Nair, Shreyas Iyer, Naman Ojha, Hardik Pandya, Jayant Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Shardul Thakur, Nathu Singh, Karn Sharma, Sheldon Jackson

South Africa: Hashim Amla (captain), AB de Villiers, Vice—Capt), Temba Bavuma, JP Duminy, Faf du Plessis, Dean Elgar, Simon Harmer, Imran Tahir, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Dane Piedt, Kagiso Rabada, Dale Steyn, Stiaan van Zyl, Dane Vilas.

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