Having flattered to deceive on most occasions after his transition from the Under-19 ranks to senior cricket, Delhi boy Unmukt Chand will be looking to make amends when he leads India ‘A’ in the tri-nation 'A' series, considered a launch pad to the senior team.
While India ‘A’ plays their first match on Friday, the tournament starts with South Africa ‘A’ pitted against Australia ‘A’ in Wednesday’s lung opener.
The tournament will be an acid test for the 22-year-old Unmukt, who the Sandeep Patil-chaired selection committee thinks is one for the future.
With India playing a lot of cricket in the next two years, the tri-series is a chance for the likes of Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav to consolidate their position in the senior team after a fruitful series against Zimbabwe.
But the centre of attention will be on Unmukt, who would like to prove his detractors wrong and assert that he belongs to the top level.
An average of below 35 and strike rate of 68-plus in over 55 List A matches is certainly not a true reflection of his capabilities, as he can be destructive on his day and singlehandedly win matches for his team.
The weak link of this ‘A’ team is the pace attack, which is filled with military medium trundlers like Sandeep Sharma, Rush Kalaria and Rishi Dhawan. It will be spearheaded by Dhawal Kulkarni, who barely touches the 135 kmph mark.
With the Chepauk wickets playing truant and being on the slower side, the captains too have a bigger role to play in assessing the conditions rightly and planning their respective strategies since the white kookaburra ball early one in the morning can be a factor.
The Australians have more or less mastered the conditions well which was evident from their victory in the unofficial 'Test' series.
South Africa ‘A’ have solid batsmen in opener Reeza Hendricks and Cody Chetty at No 3, who are experienced and played in the last two tri-series events, like their new ball bowlers Beuran Hendricks and Hardus Viljoen. Another player of Indian origin, Keshav Maharaj, is a left-arm spinner.
But Quinton de Kock, who is expected to play the series as a dress rehearsal for the big one after that will be joining the squad in a couple of days.
India 'A': Unmukt Chand (Captain), Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair (vice-capt), Kedar Jadhav, Sanju Samson, Axar Patel, Parveez Rasool, Karn Sharma, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sandeep Sharma, Rush Kalaria, Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Rishi Dhawan.
Australia 'A': Usman Khawaja (Captain), Matthew Wade (wk), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Cameron Boyce, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Callum Ferguson, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, James Pattinson, Gurinder Sandhu, Andrew Fekete.
South Africa 'A': Dean Elgar (captain), Theunis De Bruyn, Reeza Hendricks, Wayne Parnell, Beuran Hendricks, Lonwabo Tsotsobe, Eddie Leie, Mthokozisi Shezi, Khayan zondo, Cameron Delport, Omphile Ramela, Dane Vilas, Hardus Viljoen, Cody Chetty, Keshav Maharaj, Quinton de Kock.