Deodhar Trophy: Players upbeat with one eye on India cap

The India 'A’ and India `B’ teams feature in the opening game, which is likely to be affected by rain.

India U-19 stars Prithvi Shaw and Shubman Gill are expected to excel.   -  K. PICHUMANI

The players drove into this hilly town in batches. With no time for preparation, they go into the match on Sunday with the hope that they can use this opportunity and make the most of a Deodhar Trophy tournament so poorly scheduled.

The India 'A’ and India `B’ teams feature in the opening game, which is likely to be affected by rain. The wet outfield on Saturday did not augur well for some players, who will be looking to make an impact in the presence of two National selectors.

As India 'A’ coach Paras Mhambrey opined, “Some of the players are pretty excited. The selection for this tournament is a reward for their performances in the season and I see some of them have the potential to go ahead. For them it is like carrying on from the last game.”

The emphasis obviously would be on maintaining the consistency that has brought them thus far. India `B’ coach Abhay Sharma noted, “The players have a lot to gain if they can use this opportunity and push their cases. The IPL (Indian Premier League) is not far away and they can prepare for it with decent performance here. It will be icing on the cake if they leave this place as champions.”

Most of the names are well known. For Unmukt Chand and Kulwant Khejroliya - both from Delhi - it is a stage they can drive strength from. Prithvi Shaw is expected to excel. Shubman Gill is another youngster, along with the dashing wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan, who can back himself to play in the next grade.

Hyderabad batsman Rohit Rayudu, Kerala fast bowler Basil Thampi, Maharashtra opener Rituraj Gaikwad, Bengal star Abhimanyu Easwaran and Andhra stroke-player Hanuma Vihari have been picked with an eye on the future, They have specific roles assigned and need to be at their best.

Fast bowlers Umesh Yadav and Mohammad Shami can test themselves ahead of the IPL. Delhi seamer Navdeep Saini continues his impressive march and a decent show here would boost his claims, Test off-spinner Jayant Yadav, recovering from an injury, will shed off his rustiness and look to raise his stakes.

The timing of the tournament may not be ideal but Abhay observed there is plenty at stake. “Playing a match without practice may be a challenge for the players but they are professionals. Modern cricket is about adaptability and I expect them to adjust,” said Abhay.

Mhambrey agreed, “We have a fair idea of the players. This tournament helps them understand each other better. It is about gaining and learning.”