I was reading through the announcement of the India squad for the visit of South Africa coming up, the main squad contained a couple of new(ish) names, S. Badrinath and Abhimanyu Mithun, who both look good players, but it was the quality, and age, of the players in their Presidents XI side that really struck me.
I'm not very familiar with India's domestic competitions, alas, but a look at some of the players they've got coming through shows that though they're going to lose some thoroughbreds in Dravid, Tendulkar and Laxman in the not-too-distant future, their future is in good hands.
Names like Rohit Sharma, Manish Pandey and Manpreet Gony are familiar from the IPL and have all at one point or another shown glimpses of huge talent. Sharma in particular who is already captain of Mumbai and vice captain of the current IPL champions, Deccan Chargers.
But there are others who have yet to feature much in the IPL and on the international scene. Three batsmen in particular catch the eye. The first of which is Cheteshwar Pujara, 22 years old and with 46 first class matches under his belt, he averages a shade over 57 with 13 hundreds (including one triple hundred!), the numbers say he's got a long career ahead of him, and he looks to be very well thought of too.
I've been following Abhinav Mukund in this year's Ranji Trophy, he's just 20 years old but he averaged just under 50 with 484 runs from 7 matches. But it was his record in the previous seasons that marked him out, he averages over 53 from 25 matches with 8 hundreds (again including a triple!). He's only likely to improve with experience too.
Lastly, Ajinkya Rahane, who at 21 is averaging over 63 for Mumbai, and despite being the only one of these three without a triple century, is sure to be a star of the future. He scored 172 against the England Lions side who were allowed in the Ranji Trophy in 2008, and who boasted Monty Panesar, Liam Plunkett and Steve Kirby in their attack.
I'm less sure about their bowling stocks, they don't have much to shout about at the moment beyond Zaheer, with Ishant and others in indifferent form (there's always Piyush Chawla!) but in the batting department India boast an embarassment of young riches. And I haven't even mentioned Suresh Raina, Virat Kohli and Murali Vijay - all of whom have already tasted international cricket with some considerable success. OK, replacing three players with over 62,000 international runs between them is going to be incredibly difficult, but at least they've got plenty of candidates!
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