Sandip Patel headed five-member selection committee selected one allrounder and two hard hitting batsmen for ODI and T20 series in Australia. With a big tough tour is waiting ahead these players have experience of playing in Australia. Here is how they got India call.
22-year-old Hardik Pandya has impressed the selectors with his 2015 IPL season. He managed to steal the limelight from among the big boys of Mumbai Indian teams. He played a crucial part along with the key players Lasith Malinga, Rohit Sharma, Lendon Simmons and Kieron Pollard to win the IPL 2015 for Mumbai.
Pandya, who was relatively unknown colt until March this year, was primarily on the back of a 57 ball 82 in a T20 in 2014 against a Mumbai attack comprised of Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni and Pravin Tambe. Mumbai coach John Wright was present at the match along with talent scout team was impressed with the boy and bought him for Rs 10 lakh in the auction in February this year.
He scored 112 runs in nine games for Mumbai Indians. Not remarkable, though, two knocks altered the course of Mumbai’s campaign. But, two innings revealed the potential in the boy. His first innings was an eight ball 21 runs innings against Chennai Super Kings that turned an improbable chase into a win, an unbeaten 31 ball 61 against Kolkata Knight Riders that gave Mumbai a total substance to defend in must win a game.
Sanath Kumar, the coach Baroda observed the boy, who played the first two season, said he wasn’t an instant hit, but his commitment helped him get noticed. Sanath recounted one game against Maharashtra in 2013, which was only Pandya’s third T20 match for Baroda. He hit one four and four sixes in his 26 balls 44 that fueled Baroda’s rather difficult chase as they eventually fell seven runs short.
“He used to bowl leg spin during his Under-19 days, but wasn’t going anywhere. So we asked him to work on his batting. He had the strength,” Sanath Kumar told ESPNcricinfo. “In a couple of games, he was comfortably outscoring Yusuf Pathan. That is when he realised he had the ability to bat higher up. The fact that he is a sharp bowler and can ease the workload of the main bowlers is an added incentive. He will be an ideal short-format cricketer.”
Dhawan got India call after a season for Himachal Pradesh with seam ups. In 2013-2014 Ranji season, he finished as the highest wicket taker with 49 wickets from eight matches that followed 40 wickets haul in the next season. This season he grabbed 28 wickets in eight matches. His bowling is also complemented by his 10 fifties and a hundred coming at lower down the order in Ranji Trophy matches since the 2013-14 season.
But, Himachal’s failure to qualify for quarterfinal has overshadowed his individual form, but his performances have consistently earned him a place in India A’s limited over sides in the last couple of seasons.
This time around, Dhawan’s match winning performance helped Himachal to top their group and qualify for the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy that indeed played an instrumental role in his selection for ODI series in Australia. He scored 252 runs in five innings at a strike rate of 113.51. With his batting performance, Dhawan also took six wickets. With three matches still remain for the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Dhawan has still changed to present his case, if team management needs to see more of him.
His performance with the bat in hand may help the lower batting order that failed to help India in recent time. Across the first class match, Dhawan has scored five hundred but he considers his best knock to be half-century that helped India A clinch a thriller in the Quadrangular A series final in Australia last year. With India needing 73 off the last 10 overs, and only the tail follow, he held the lower order together and made an unbeaten 56 to take the team home in the penultimate over.
Pandey has made his ODI debut for India in the Zimbabwe series. This season he is the leading run-scorer for Karnataka’s failed Rajni season. He first made headlines when he was member of India’s Under -19 World Cup winning team in 2008. But it was in the 2009 IPL when he registered a hundred as the first Indian batsman. Pandey has been regular in the Karnataka squad since then.
In October 2014, Pandey was called for T20 series against West Indies. However, he did not get an opportunity to play as West Indies pulled out of their tour. But, his bat did not stop talking as he started to pile up runs for Karnataka’s success in domestic cricket, winning the Ranji Trophy, Irani Trophy and Vijay Hazare Trophy for second successive season. He won the man of the match in the 2014 IPL final for Kolkata Knight Riders. His IPL season followed by a decent Australia tour with India A.
“The Zimbabwe tour went well. I performed well on my debut, so I knew I would be there in the mix,” he said soon after his call-up. “Doing well in an international match gives you the confidence. I didn’t look at my selection for Zimbabwe as a stop-gap arrangement.” He replaced Suresh Raina in the team.