Wriddhiman Saha, the reserve wicketkeeper in India’s touring party to Sri Lanka for the coming Test series, and Abhimanyu Mithun, injured Zaheer Khan’s replacement, joined the team on Saturday morning after finishing the India ‘A’ tour of England.
The duo’s arrival wasn’t a surprise, but to see medium-pace bowler, Jaidev Unadkat, walking in with them did raise a few eyebrows among the handful of journalists who are here to cover the series.
But doubts about another injury were soon put aside when it was learnt that Unadkat had been asked to join the team as a net bowler during the build-up to the first Test, which starts at Galle on July 18.
Unadkat, who has impressed one and all since his impressive outing in the Under-19 World Cup, is one of the two bowlers asked to assist the team. Umesh Yadav, who made his international debut during the tri-series in Zimbabwe in May, will arrive on Sunday.
The move has to be applauded since it will serve a dual purpose. Not only will the two youngsters benefit, it will also help Indian batsmen prepare better for the series.
The Indian team often suffers from a lack of quality net bowlers during their overseas assignments. This often leads to the mainline bowlers bowling in excess during practice. To solve the conundrum, the team management came up with the idea of asking some youngsters, on the threshold of breaking into the national team, to join the touring party.
Besides resolving the batsmen’s problem, it also presents the bowlers an opportunity to learn from the seniors and get the feel of being with the international team. Not only have the BCCI bigwigs, often accused of not paying heed to the players’ concerns, welcomed the idea, they may even extend it for all future Test series.
For someone like 18-year-old Unadkat, who followed up the Under-19 World Cup performance with impressive outings in the Indian Premier League and India A’s tour to England, bowling to the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman in itself will be a huge learning experience.
If the Indian batsmen end up making a mockery of Lasith Malinga and Co, then Unadkat and Yadav would have a smile as big as a goal post.