IT WAS rather a low key affair when Tahir Abbas-led Uttar Pradesh boys laid their hands on their maiden Under-22 Col CK Nayudu Trophy in March this year on the basis of the first innings lead against Bengal here, after UP men had won the coveted Ranji Trophy title for the first time just a few days back.
But one thing was clear that the young boys were aggressive enough to graduate themselves in the senior team, next season. Back-to-back century in the first two games of under-22 in the new season by Allahabad’s Tahir Abbas has set an alarm bells for the senior batsmen.
Yes, the prolific batsman Tahir is all set to make it to the 15-member Ranji Trophy team this time, if everything goes according to the plan in the three-day trials, starting on October 25, at the Kamla Club Ground in Kanpur.
“He (Tahir) is a terrific batsman, and in the recent two matches he has staked his claim to make it to the team,” opined a selector, adding, “In absence of Mohd Kaif and Suresh Raina, we will desperately needing such batsmen, who could not only stabilise the batting strength, but could also turn the table in UP’s favour.”
Though Tahir was among the Ranji Trophy probables last season along with Tanmay Srivastava, his pre-assigned schedule of the Nayudu Trophy, had curtailed his chances of making it to the team. But this time, his central zone assignments will conclude on November 11 with the last league match against Vidarbha from November 8 at Kanpur.
Besides him, Lucknow’s Tanmay Srivastava will be the other new face in the Ranji Trophy team this time. Young left-hand batsman Tanmay led India Under-19 team to overwhelming success against England Colts recently. Indian Colts had won the one-day series by 3-0, while it was 1-0 in the one-off Test. After making his debut for the UP team in the recently held Irani Trophy at Nagpur, Tanmay sounds confident for a fine show in the Ranji Trophy this time.
“It’s quite crucial time for me where I have to establish myself as a utility member of the team,” said Tanmay on Monday before leaving to Jamshedpur to play the Duleep Trophy match.
The senior selection committee members i.e. Gopal Sharma (chairman), Vijay Chopra, Obaid Kamal, Ambrish Gautam and Mohd Shahid will also be watching two youngsters Ankit Tewari and Mohd Arif (wicket-keeper). Tewari, who did his special under-19 training at the National Cricket Academy at Bangalore this August, carries fine batting performances on his shoulders. His 570 runs in as many as six matches of Polly Umrigar Under-15 Trophy in 2003-04, and an innings of 220 runs in 2004-5 Vijay Merchant Under-17 Trophy have brightened his chances to be picked up among the seniors this time.
In absence of Mohd Kaif and Suresh Raina not much experiments are expected to be made by the selectors while choosing the skipper. Allahabad’s Jyoti Yadav starts favourites for the job, and if the things were not worked out it will be Ravikant Shukla’s chances to lead the team.
“Ravikant has already proved his skills as a fine skipper for India Under-19 in the last World Cup and also for the UP Ranji team in the one-dayers too,” said another selector on the condition of anonymity.
Being the defending champions Uttar Pradesh launch their campaign in the Elite Group with the match against Andhra Pradesh from November 23-26 at Kanpur. This will be followed by their matches against Tamil Nadu (Dec 1 to 4) at Chennai, against Karnataka (Dec 9-12) at Kanpur, against Baroda (Dec 17-20) at Baroda, against Haryana (Dec 25-28) in Haryana and against Saurashtra (Jan 10-13) at Kanpur.