Just days before the start of the Indian Premier League, the Indian team will be taking on a visiting South African team in a three-match ODI series. The three matches will be played in the month of March, with the first one being held on the 12th of the month. This series will be important for team India in many aspects. Firstly, it would give a chance to some of the recovering players to get their bodies prepared for the IPL and the following days of intense cricket.
Secondly, it could also be a chance for the selectors to try out multiple player combinations and give chances to multiple players, trying all of them out before the upcoming T20 World Cup. The players, though might not be playing the same format as the multi-nation tournament, can be tested out thoroughly in terms of their skills and temperament in various situations. And, there is a possibility of finding an absolute gem of a player, who could be one of the prime players for team India in the T20 World Cup.
Some of the players have been sweating it out in the A tours and the domestic scene and all they need is an international call up in order to justify all the efforts they’ve put in.
So, here’s a look at five such players who should be played in the bilateral series:
1. Shubman Gill
One of the best finds of the Under 19 Indian team, Shubman Gill, is spite of having made his international debut in January of 2019, he has not been a part of many matches for team India. In fact, since his debut, he has played only two ODI matches for the team. He was picked up to be a part of the 15-member squad for many tours after that but wasn’t picked in the final XI that played the matches and warmed the benches.
But, in the domestic circuit and for the India A team, he has been doing really well and his performances speak for themself. In his last five matches for the A team, he scored a century, a double century and two fifties which are enough to get any capped player stage his comeback into the national team.
A player of his calibre, sitting out must be a really difficult task. But, the upcoming tour of South Africa, should be the one where he gets back into the Indian team. Since it will be a home series, the selectors would get a chance to keep a close eye on his performances and give him enough chances to prove his worth.
He could also be utilized as a backup to Virat Kohli in the team. If Virat wants to sit out for a match or two, Shubman can fill in for him easily, owing to his batting style, skills and temperament that he has, which is perfect for the number three spot.
2. Shahbaz Nadeem
One of the most underrated spinners in the Indian cricket scene, Shahbaz Nadeem’s career has seen its share of disappointments, in spite of having done well consistently at all levels. The slow left-arm spinner from the state of Bihar, sweated it out in the domestic circuit for quite some time, hoping for an India call-up.
And, he had to wait until 2019 for that. But, after that one match he featured in, he has been neglected again by the selectors. And, the upcoming series against the Proteas should be the one where gets another shot at proving his worth.
Nadeem has been one of the best spinners for his domestic team, and when he got a chance to play for India, he poured his heart out. In the only Test match he has played so far, he has 4 wickets to his name. This performance was even more valuable because he was called mid-way through the series and he did well.
The Indian team, that will be playing the home series against South Africa, should see Shahbaz being tried out in the One Day Internationals too. He has the capabilities of becoming a bowler at par with any other in the squad right now. And, if he succeeds, it could be a boon for the Indian team as he could come in at any point in time as a replacement for any of the established spinners if they go out of form or get injured.
3. Suryakumar Yadav
The dashing Mumbai batsman Suryakumar Yadav has also been trying to get into the Indian team for quite some time now and has been sweating it out in the domestic scene and the Indian Premier League in the hope of grabbing the eyeballs of the selectors. And, the series in focus could be the perfect opportunity for him to get his place in the team.
His ability to bat anywhere in the batting order which has been proven in the IPL could be utilised to great effect by the Indian team that has been struggling to find the perfect floater in its middle order after MS Dhoni’s departure.
Playing in the Indian Premier League, he has batted as deep as the number 8 spot and has shown promise at each of the positions he has played in. He has a total of 1544 runs to his name, out of which, 441 came in as an opener, 432 at the number 3 spot, 279 at number 4, and the rest at the batting positions 5,6,7, and 8.
He could be that player who can be sent at any position, either to get quick runs at the end or hold one side, while his settled partner does the hitting. It is high time now for him to get an India call-up and the series against South Africa should be the one where he finally gets a chance to be a part of the Men in Blue.
4. Sanju Samson
A curious case of missed opportunities and underutilisation of talent– Sanju Samson’s name many times gets to be a part of the pre-selection discussions but not gets featured in the final list of players. But, he being the gritty man he is, always puts his head down and gets back to doing what he does the best.
A youngster like him would have broken down till now, given the ups and downs his career has seen. But, he has always been out there on the field, giving his hundred per cent. It could come as a surprise that a player like him has been a part of only four international matches till date, with all of them being T20Is.
After making his debut in a series against Zimbabwe in 2015, he was out of the Indian team for four years. It was in 2019 that he got his highly anticipated international call up, but destiny had other plans for him. He was picked, then dropped after one match and got two matches again, in which he underperformed and since hasn’t been picked up.
Although the fans and some experts have written him off, there is still enough cricket left in him to make a comeback into the Indian team. And, the perfect opportunity awaits him in the India South Africa series where he can be played in as a wicketkeeper-batsman in place of or alongside his competitor Rishabh Pant.
5. Rahul Chahar
Rahul Chahar’s fame in the cricketing circles is of no match to the immense talent and ability this man has. The 20-year-old from the state of Rajasthan can work wonders for his team with both the bat and the ball in hand. Just send him in at the right time, either to bat or to bowl, and sit back and relax. Watching him play is an absolute delight. The way he hits the ball and his style of bowling is a treat for any cricket enthusiast.
Chahar had gotten a chance to play for the Indian team against the West Indies in August of 2019. And, in that match, he managed to pick up a single wicket, in his 3 overs and gave away 27 runs. These figures, if not good, are surely decent enough for any debutant. But since then, stars haven’t been on his side and he hasn’t got a chance to play for India again.
But, in the series against South Africa, he can definitely be tried out to fill the shoes of Kedar Jadhav by being played as the middle order floater who can chip in the middle overs. And, scalp get a wicket to two by disturbing the flow of runs for the opponents and preventing them from amassing a big total.
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