<b>Close-in:</b> The young turks of India
There’s no time like now to play cricket for India and there are quite a few talented young players, like Parthiv Patel, to choose from
The last few weeks have been an exciting period in Indian cricket. The finals of the Ranji Trophy resulted in a historic win for Gujarat. They lifted the trophy for the first time adding to the “Vibrant Gujarat” event that attracted billions of rupees of investment into the state.
Gujarat played magnificent cricket throughout the tournament and showed the mettle and strength they posses by beating Mumbai in the finals. Parthiv Patel, their captain, played two scintillating knocks in the finals and the 143 runs that he scored in the second innings was not only a treat to watch but showed the hunger and determination to ensure a win.
Defeating a Mumbai is a tough task on most occasions and Gujarat through their young battalion of players, ably mentored by their two stalwarts, Parthiv and RP Singh, were simply brilliant. PK Panchal, their opener and highest run- getter, may not have contributed much in the finals, but his compact innings of 34 runs in the second innings showed his class. Scoring over 1,300 runs this season puts him just a step closer to the existing Indian team openers. A good innings from him in the Irani Trophy should make him a strong contender for a place in the Indian eleven. His partner S Gohel is also not far behind.
The batsman who however, took one’s breath away was the young Mumbai opener Prithvi Shaw. This boy has got technique and class written all over him. His debut century in the semi- finals and the 70 and 44 runs in the finals at this young age reminded one of the master, Sachin Tendulkar. Prithvi’s shots seem to have the same grace and confidence and watching him play shots on both sides of the wickets fluently did give one the feeling that another star is born in Indian cricket. He still does need a bit of time to improve his temperament, as being young he has the tendency to get over excited and adventurous at times. Indian batting, I feel, has three layers of players in its ranks and competition to establish a permanent place in the side will be a challenge as never seen before.

The worry, however, in the last few games of the Ranji Trophy was in the bowling department. Apart from Shardul Thakur, not a single spin or fast bowler looked the part to be in the running for an Indian place. The spin bowlers were ordinary and the only medium pacer who was effective was Abhishek Nayar. He got wickets because he has a very astute cricketing brain and as an all-rounder he showed how useful a player he could be.
The most redeeming feature of Gujarat winning the Ranji Trophy was that the psychological advantage that Mumbai has over the rest of the sides may have finally dwindled. A good outcome in the final context of things for cricket to flourish in other centres of India. After all, Mumbai has won the trophy 41 times.

India in the One-day series against England are showing how deep and destructive their batting can be. With centuries by Virat Kohli, Kedar Jadhav, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni, the middle order seems to have now chosen itself for the Champion’s Trophy to be held later on in the year in England. The opening slots are the only ones still to be established. KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan have not had a good outing in the first two matches and Ajinkya Rahane will in most probability play the next match in Kolkata. India looks a very confident side at present and chasing a target of 350 runs in the first one day international, sealed the Indian team’s mental superiority and victory against the English side. The second match that India won after scoring 381runs by just 14 runs shows that batting on Indian wickets with restrictive field placement has become a grave yard for the bowlers.
India now have a good opportunity to try out their bench strength and form the nucleus of the side to play the next big tournament, the Champions Trophy. India are the defending champions and have to play the first match against Pakistan. The other teams in their group are South Africa and Sri Lanka. They should encourage a few of their players to play county cricket in England before the tournament, as this would help them in getting acclimatised. This is important.They will need to fire on all cylinders from the very first match as the tournament has very little opportunity for recovery, if a team loses initially, especially against their arch rivals.

The most important aspect for Indian cricket, meanwhile, will be the establishing of the Lodha committee reforms. Many BCCI stalwarts will be out of the system and new committees and people will be appointed to run the affiliated associations as well as the BCCI. The IPL will be one of the most important items on the agenda. This tournament is the bread and butter of Indian cricket and finalising the TV rights, auction and all the other areas of importance in its operations needs to be completed soon. This is essential or else it may get late too to make it a grand tournament.
Indian cricket is on a high, one hopes that the administration follows in the same vein.
Yajurvindra Singh is a former Indian cricketer
Yajurvindra Singh