This time, the inter-state one-day tournament for the Vijay Hazare Trophy had added significance. Players had extra motivation as it was a platform to stake claim for a World Cup berth.
It concluded on Tuesday with the final at Ahmedabad, and with it evaporated the hopes of some keen to have a shot at World Cup glory. Now, ahead of the submission of the probables list and the final squad, India don’t play an ODI. And there’s only one domestic limited-overs competition — Deodhar Trophy — the four-game inter-zonal event from Nov
29 to Dec 3. While it’s time for Tests in Australia, the Ranji season will be on in full swing at home.
Now, those who had already made the cut in the selectors mind are likely
to feature in Australia and New Zealand, beginning February 14.
The Vijay Hazare Trophy was advanced from the end of season to its start
to give the selectors more options. And there were quite a few names to keep them interested. From the 2011 batch of World Cup winners, Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Yusuf Pathan, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Munaf Patel, Ashish Nehra and Piyush Chawla were all in the fray.
However, the World Cup heroes didn’t do much, and among the performers, Manish Pandey looks the only one with a realistic chance to be considered, unless someone comes up with a special effort in the Deodhar games.
Pandey followed up on his recent fine showing in the limited chances he got against Sri Lanka by topping the batting charts with 472 runs in seven innings, averaging 118.
The selectors would have wanted Yuvraj to succeed. The Punjab all-rounder provided the X-factor in 2011. While the current team has outstanding stroke-makers, there’s none in the same league as the three-dimensional player with the ability to change the game in a matter of overs.
To be fair, for the North Zone batsmen, conditions at Himachal Pradesh were tough because of extra seam movement. However, Yuvraj had a perfect platform in the final. It was played at the same Motera Stadium where he produced his best innings of the 2011 campaign, against Australia. This time around, on a wicket where Karnataka had amassed 359, Yuvraj was out for 23. He aggregated 204, averaging 29.14 in eight innings.
“Pandey did well for himself, getting the numbers and helping his team win. He is a precocious talent, and it’s time he is given an opportunity to prove himself (with India),” said former India selector VB Chandrasekhar, who was expert commentator for the tournament.
“Overall, there was nothing great on offer. You generally expect new talent to come and take you by surprise but nothing of that sort happened,” said the former India and Tamil Nadu opener. Robin Uthappa and Manoj Tiwary were the others to catch his eye.
“Punjab made the mistake by bowling first. We might have got to see a more stable innings had Yuvi got to bat first.”
By all indications, MS Dhoni will lead the same bunch that has formed the nucleus of the team in the last couple of seasons.
“India has had a fair amount of success with Virat Kohli, with everyone playing around him. Suresh Raina could play a pivotal role like Yuvraj did, with his batting, bowling and fielding.”