Gen next cricketers take centerstage

The Challenger Trophy has been the breeding ground for India's budding talent.

updated: November 06, 2007 15:42 IST
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The Challenger Trophy has been the breeding ground for India's budding talent, it's where the fringe players hope to push forward their case before the selectors, and its also where the really fresh talent gets a chance to show off their wares and enter into sight of the selectors for future selection.

Cases in point are Cheteshwar Pujara and Iqbal Abdulla from India Green.

The most famous exploit of opening bat Cheteshwar Pujara was his triple century scored at the age of 13. He's now 19, and stories of his success continue.

He had a great run on the India A tour in Kenya and Zimbabwe scoring two half centuries and a ton, plus he's been a hit on the Under-19 circuit, ending as the top scorer at the 2006 World Cup where India reached the finals, thanks to a match winning 129 by Pujara versus England in the semifinals.

The best part about Pujara is that he's not looking to jump the gun, and wants to work his way up to team India through the ranks. Pujara's father and grandfather have played cricket, he claims cricket is in his blood.

"You can say cricket is in my blood, My Grandfather played Ranji, and my father has also played cricket and he is my coach even today," said Cheteshwar Pujara, Member, Saurashtra Ranji Team.

Seventeen-year-old Iqbal Abdulla has no tradition of cricket in his family, in fact his father wanted him to run his provision store in Azamgarh a small UP town, but Iqbal fought against all odds to make a hard but successful journey to the city of dreams, Mumbai and that's not all in September he managed to break into the ranks of the country's most famous Ranji team.

"I am very honoured to play for Mumbai, Its a team for which legends like Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Dilip Vengsarkar play for them. I made my debut in Pakistan and played for Mumbai in Karachi, and the best part was that we won the match," said Iqbal Abdulla, Member, Mumbai Ranji Team.

And while the pair are happy having broken into the domestic circuit, the real challenge will be to make that very huge jump into the international arena.