Three for the future from Deodhar Trophy

Sandwiched between international matches and rarely making news, Deodhar Trophy completed 50 years recently. Not the 50th edition, because it was not held every year.

This was an important outing for aspirants and there were a few who grabbed their chance. Not all of them are newcomers, but they made a mark consistently at a national-level event for the first time, which might push them into the India or India ‘A’ set-up.

Parag, the crisis-man

Riyan Parag (East Zone): Not many make their runs the way this Assam player did and the circumstances he made them in. East Zone were 57/5 versus Central Zone and 157/5 against West in a must-win game. The Rajasthan Royals star smashed centuries at a rapid strike-rate to take the total above 300 both times. A high percentage of his runs came from sixes and fours. In the final too, the No 6 made a valiant attempt when his team was 115/5 chasing 329 to win. Parag’s 65-ball 95 was not enough this time.

He aggregated 354 in five innings with a strike-rate of 136.67. In all, he struck 20 fours and 23 sixes. He also took 11 wickets with his leg-spinners, with an economy rate of 4.84. He has the experience of high-octane matches in the IPL and this consistency under pressure should be rewarded when the selectors jot down names for the future.

Kaverappa, the damager

Vidwath Kaverappa (South Zone): Second highest wicket-taker in Duleep Trophy and chart-topper in Deodhar with 13 scalps in five outings, the fast-medium bowler from Karnataka has been the talk of the domestic circuit this season, as far as his kind of bowling is concerned. With India not sure how long Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Shami will continue and fitness issues affecting this department every now and then, the team needs a fresh face.

In just over a year in first-class cricket, this 24-year-old has racked up impressive numbers in red and white-ball cricket. It suggests he is good at making the necessary adjustments without wasting time. If he has the other traits needed to make it to the highest level, his success rate will surely make the selectors keep a more consistent eye on him.

Guts behind & in front of wickets

Kumar Kushagra (East Zone): After a batting all-rounder, a fast bowler, here is a wicketkeeper who doesn’t hold back with the bat. With India yet to settle down on a wicketkeeper-batter in Tests and ODIs, this Jharkhand youngster can be the one for the future. He is yet to turn 19, averages nearly 40 in first-class and above 50 in List A cricket.

In Deodhar, he was Parag’s batting partner in three major partnerships. All three came when the team was under pressure. Kushagra made 97, 53 and 68 at a strike rate of 109.13 in five innings batting at No 7. He also took nine catches. He has an aggressive attitude and is not shy of taking the opposition on. In his brief career so far, Kushagra has shown the temperament to fight when the chips are down. If he maintains consistency and improves his glovework, other qualities may just take him a notch higher.

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