New Delhi: In less than a week, the India A team will leave for West Indies but at least half of the members of the squad are woefully short of proper match practice as they embark on a tour that will be an indicator of senior team`s bench strength in the coming season.
Out of the 15-member squad, there are at least seven players who haven`t played any significant competitive match for more than month-and-half while the Cheteshwar Pujara-led team will play their first four-day `Test` match against West Indies `A` from June 2-5.
Some of the key players who haven`t played any quality competitive matches (club matches excluded) are skipper Cheteshwar Pujara, vice-captain Wriddhiman Saha, Robin Bist, Abhinav Mukund, left-arm spinner Akshay Darekar, Shami Ahmed and Jalaj Saxena.
A short three-day conditioning camp will be held at the Feroz Shah Kotla from May 27-29 before the team leaves for Caribbean Islands.
Skipper Pujara has last played an IPL match on April 12 for RCB while his deputy Saha played the last of his four IPL matches on April 28. Significantly, he got a chance to bat only once.
Rajasthan`s Bist last played a BCCI match way back on March 18 (Deodhar Trophy game) and hasn`t played a single match for Delhi Daredevils in this edition of IPL. Bist however has been playing Hot-Weather tournament matches for his team Collage but that can hardly be called competitive.
His colleague Shami Ahmed`s case is even more baffling. The 22-year-old Shami hasn`t played a single match since Bengal`s National T20 encounter back on March 25. He has warmed the dug-out for KKR throughout the season and funnily his club side Mohun Bagan are out of CAB league depriving him of even the slightest chance of bowling in a competitive match.
Bist however feels that playing club matches has atleast kept him match-fit as he hasn`t been touring with Daredevils.
"You can`t complain if you don`t have enough matches to play. But Hot-Weather club matches are good in a sense that you can atleast understand how your body responds to searing heat. I am doing regular nets, yoga sessions and keeping myself ready," the talented Bist told PTI today.
Tamil Nadu opener Mukund last played on March 24 in a National T20 game and hasn`t also got a look in the playing XI. Considering, he would be playing an active role in the `A` team, he would certainly be rusty.
Rookie Darekar and surprise selection Saxena have last played for their sides on March 19 and 25 respetively. It`s certainly not a good situation to be in expecially this can be a make-or-break tour for some of these players.
List of players and when they played last:
• Cheteshwar Pujara (April 12-IPL)
• Wriddhiman Saha (April 28-IPL)
• Robin Bist (March 18 (Deodhar))
• Shami Ahmed (March 25th Syed Mushtaq Ali T20)
• Abhinav Mukund (March 24, Syed Mushtaq Ali T20)
• Akshay Darekar (March 19, Deodhar Trophy)
• Jalaj Saxena (March 25, Syed Mushtaq Ali T20).