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Pant, Raina and Rahane Among Stars to Watch Out For in Vijay Hazare Trophy

Karthik Lakshmanan |Cricketnext | Updated: September 18, 2018, 6:24 PM IST
Pant, Raina and Rahane Among Stars to Watch Out For in Vijay Hazare Trophy

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More than 500 cricketers will be in action in the Indian domestic circuit starting on Wednesday, as the 37-team Vijay Hazare Trophy gets underway across six cities.

From experienced cricketers who have led India to completely new players from the north-eastern states, the tournament will see a wide range of players with different ambitions. Many of them are stepping into a new world, while a few would want to throw their names in the ring with the World Cup less than a year away.

We look at a few players for whom the Vijay Hazare tournament could be an audition for a spot in the Indian one-day side.

Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina (Twitter/Cricket Ireland) Suresh Raina (Twitter/Cricket Ireland)

Ambati Rayudu failing the yo-yo test ahead of the England ODIs provided Raina a great opportunity to make a case for himself in the format. Earlier in the year, the left-hander had made a comeback to the Indian T20I side after more than a year and made public his desire to play the 2019 World Cup.

He got the chance in the side when he replaced Rayudu, but sees himself on the sidelines after just two innings. In the two matches he batted, he made 46 off 63 and 1 off 4, falling to Adil Rashid both times.

Rayudu passing the fitness test, Kedhar Jadhav recovering from a hamstring injury and Manish Pandey impressing in the quadrangular one-day series for India B has meant Raina finds himself out of favour again.

But the door is unlikely to be completely shut. Raina has played 226 ODIs including two World Cups, and one of the few middle-order batsmen who can also chip in with the ball. The Vijay Hazare Tournament, where he’ll lead Uttar Pradesh, will be crucial for the experienced batsman to make a case for himself once again.

Rishabh Pant

A file photo of Rishabh Pant. (Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Pant has made it to the Indian T20I and Test sides but somehow hasn’t broken into the ODI set-up. MS Dhoni’s gigantic presence in the side is clearly making Pant wait, but the wicketkeeper-batsman from Delhi has done everything within his control.

Pant’s most recent List A outing was the tri-series for India A in England, where he made 158 runs from five innings, including two half-centuries. It included an unbeaten 62-ball 64 in a victorious chase in the final against England A.

Pant then made it to the Test side, and also scored his debut ton in his third game. He’s making all the right noises, but given India’s reluctance to test him out, he might have to wait until the post-Dhoni era. The Vijay Hazare Trophy is yet another chance for him to try and hasten his entry into the ODI format.

Ajinkya Rahane

Mumbai: Indian cricketer Ajinkya Rahane during a practice session for the upcoming England tour at BKC, in Mumbai on July 02, 2018. (Image: PTI) Ajinkya Rahane. (PTI)

In or out? Opening or No. 4? These are questions to which Rahane has never found proper answers. With Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan forming a strong opening combination in ODIs, Rahane has had to fight for his spot as the third opener. Even if he did do well as an opener, he’d find himself making way for the Rohit-Dhawan combo when both were available. Case in point: Rahane scored four consecutive half-centuries in the home series against Australia, but couldn’t make it to the XI in the series against New Zealand and Sri Lanka that followed.

Rahane did get a chance as No. 4 – for the first time since January 2016 – in South Africa earlier this year. He did a decent job and had scores that included a 79 and 34* in five innings, but was left out of the squad for the England ODIs after a poor IPL. India is yet to find a settled middle order before the World Cup, and Rahane will be hoping the Vijay Hazare tournament will put him back in the race.

Shreyas Iyer

Shreyas Iyer. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi) Shreyas Iyer. (AP Photo)

Not too long ago, Iyer was supposed to be the next big thing in Indian cricket. Consistent runs in domestic cricket gave him an ODI debut last December against Sri Lanka and he began well with two half-centuries in three matches. It earned him a place in the squad for the South Africa tour, where he scored 18 and 30 in the two ODIs he batted in.

Iyer had a decent IPL, scoring more than 400 runs as captain of Delhi Daredevils, but a poor tour of England with India A cost him. He scored only 93 runs from five matches at an average of 18, and found himself out of the ODI set up. In the quadrangular series at home that followed, Iyer managed only one half-century from four matches.

Ravindra Jadeja

File image of India all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja during practice. (Getty Images) Ravindra Jadeja. (Getty Images)

Jadeja last played an ODI in July last year. He wasn’t giving India wickets in the middle overs, and along with R Ashwin, was replaced by the wrist-spin combo of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal. He hasn’t even been picked as the third spinner, Axar Patel getting the nod for that role.

But Jadeja hasn’t given up. After returning to the Test XI and performing well immediately, Jadeja said he wants to be an all-format all-rounder once again. If he can walk the talk, he could be an asset considering his fielding skills.

Krunal Pandya

Krunal Pandya in action for India A. (Twitter/Krunal Pandya) Krunal Pandya. (Twitter/Krunal Pandya)

One of the reasons for India’s 1-2 series loss in England was their inflexibility in the bowling; they had five bowlers, including Hardik Pandya, with only Suresh Raina chipping in with few overs among the batsmen. A middle-order batsman/finisher who can bowl would have been an asset.

That is the role Krunal has been playing for his sides – Baroda and Mumbai Indians – over the last couple of years. He did make it to the T20I squad as a replacement to the injured Washington Sundar in England, but didn’t get a game. With less than a year to go for the World Cup, Krunal is perhaps not in the selectors’ plans, but he’d want to continue nudging the door.

Mayank Agarwal

A file photo of Mayank Agarwal. (Twitter/ Circle of Cricket) Mayank Agarwal. (PTI)

Well, what else is there to say about Mayank Agarwal? He’s turned run-machine across formats over the last year, but hasn’t been able to make it to the Indian squad in any format. Maybe, just maybe, the Vijay Hazare trophy will change that.
First Published: September 18, 2018, 5:04 PM IST
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