Good times are back for Saurashtra cricket. Once the cradle of Indian cricket, with names like Vinoo Mankad, Amar Singh, L Ramji and S Nyalchand donning the India cap, Saurashtra is again enjoying its time in the sun with as many as three cricketers finally getting recognition from the Indian selectors.
While Ravindra Jadeja and Cheteshwar Pujara have already made critics sit up and take notice of their oodles of talent after consistent performances over the last two years, Jaydev Unadkat is the new kid on the block to capture the attention of critics and connoisseurs alike.
The names of these Saurashtra youngsters were discussed by the selectors when they met in Kodaikanal on Sunday to pick the Indian squad for the tri-series in Zimbabwe and India 'A' team for the tour of England.
All-rounder Jadeja, who is currently in the Caribbean with Team India for the ICC World Twenty20 championship after having missed the just-concluded third IPL season, expectedly figures in the Indian squad for the Zimbabwe tour.
But the most exciting news for Saurashtra is the appointment of right-hand batsman Pujara as captain of the India 'A' team. This is just reward for the young opener's perseverance. It also confirms the fact that national selectors are interested in Pujara, who is being hailed as another Rahul Dravid by those whose comments count in Indian cricket.
"I'm very happy and excited. It shows that my talent and performance are being noticed by the Indian selectors. Now that I'm given the extra responsibility to lead the India 'A' team, I'll try my best to justify their confidence in me," says Pujara, who has been knocking at the Test doors for the last couple of years.
Left-arm medium-pacer Unadkat is fairly consistent with the ball for quite some time now and his noteworthy performance in the IPL for Kolkata Knight Riders helped him find a place in the India 'A' squad.
"This is a good opportunity for me to prove my worth. I'm sure the England tour will be a good learning experience for me. I think the English wickets will help me as a bowler," states a confident Unadkat.
Asserting that Saurashtra was never lacking in talent, Saurashtra Cricket Association secretary Niranjan Shah says, "There has never been a dearth of talent in Saurashtra. Saurashtra has produced world-class cricketers over the years. In fact, some of the legends of cricket hail from this very region, including Ranji and Duleep.
"Ravindra has already been part of India's One-day and Twenty20 teams and this is a just recognition for Cheteshwar and Jaydev's talents. I'm sure the trio will perform brilliantly and bring laurels for the country and make the whole of Saurashtra proud," adds Shah.
The One-Day International tri-series in Zimbabwe will be contested by India, Sri Lanka and the hosts. India is also scheduled to play two Twenty20 games against Zimbabwe. The tri-series in England will feature India 'A', West Indies 'A' and England Lions.