With national caps handed out to as many as five India debutants in the third and final ODI against Sri Lanka in Colombo on Friday (July 22), we recalled five of the forgotten names who also once had the chance to represent the country but have now wiped out from the memories.
In the last decade or so, Indian cricket has managed to develop an unprecedented talent depth. Heavy investment from BCCI towards a constantly improved domestic game, a much-prioritised U-19 and ‘A’ team programme and the invaluable Indian Premier League (IPL) exposure, have combined to help boost India’s talent pipeline significantly.
It has also meant that the selectors and the team management now have more ready options to pick and choose from, besides enjoying a greater sense of freedom to rest and rotate their first-choice picks to prolong their stay and keep them injury-free.
The selection committee can now rest India’s main stars on some of the tours without worrying too much about the results, allowing them to focus only on their mainstream events. It’s on such tours that India have had the opportunity to trial their fringe players and assess their progress, whether they can be selected in the first team in future or not.
But historically, only a few exceptional cricketers who made their India debuts on these tours have been able to also cement their places in the main side. It’s these unfortunate ones we are focusing on today. Cricketers who, partly down to lack of performances and mostly due to the extremely stiff competition around, were soon out of the reckoning and never got picked again.
Forgotten India debutants who are nowhere in the picture now
1. Faiz Fazal
Vidarbha legend Faiz Fazal has been one of the stalwarts of Indian domestic cricket over the last decade. Faiz has captained a resurgent Vidarbha side to multiple titles, including the prestigious Ranji Trophy, while scoring over 13,000 runs across formats at the domestic level.
But Fazal’s exploits below the international scene have resulted in only one India cap at the highest level, which he received during India’s 2016 tour of Zimbabwe. Fazal, a technically correct left-hand batsman, made an unbeaten fifty on debut in an ODI in Harare but has not played another game for India.
2. Mandeep Singh
The 2016 tour of Zimbabwe also saw Mandeep Singh make his India debut but in the T20I arena. Mandeep played all three matches of a closely contested three-match T20I series which India won 2-1. Mandeep made scores of 31, 52* and 4 in those games.
But with India’s rested first-choice opening batsmen – Shikhar Dhawan and Rohit Sharma – bound to return to the playing XI, Mandeep had to do more to retain his spot in the side. He hasn’t played for India since his brief stint more than five years back.
3. Parveez Rasool
Rasool became the first cricketer from the valleys of Jammu & Kashmir to be picked for India when he was named for the 2013 tour of Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, though, the spin bowling all-rounder warmed the benches throughout the five-match ODI series that the tourists played on their visit.
Rasool got back in the reckoning a year later when he featured in one of the three ODIs played by a second-string Indian squad on their 2014 tour of Bangladesh. The experienced J&K cricketer took a couple of wickets in his 10-over spell of 2/60 but didn’t get the chance to bat.
Unfortunately for Rasool, that standalone performance didn’t retain his spot in the team and he was sidelined for the best part of next three years until he featured in one of the three T20Is played by England on their 2016-17 India tour. In the match played in Kanpur, Rasool took a wicket in his spell of 1/32 but hasn’t been considered for India selection ever since.
4. Naman Ojha
Despite being a wicketkeeper-batsman of evident talent and promise, Naman Ojha could never break into the regular Indian side. Ojha played one ODI, two T20Is and one Test for the country, while being a veteran gloveman and middle-order batsman for Madhya Pradesh and India ‘A’.
As was the case for Fazal and Mandeep, Ojha also first played for India in Zimbabwe. With the then India skipper MS Dhoni resting, Ojha got the opportunity to play one of the games during the 2010 ODI tri-series, also involving Sri Lanka. Playing in Harare, Ojha opened the innings and got out for just one run. He also failed in the two-match T20I series that followed, making scores of only 2 & 10.
Ojha didn’t play for India in the next five years but kept himself in the reckoning through performances at the domestic level and on India ‘A’ tours. In an ultimate reward for his hardwork, Ojha was picked as the back-up gloveman for the 2015 tour of Sri Lanka, where an injury to first-choice keeper Wriddhiman Saha meant that he got to play the decisive third and final Test at the P Sara Oval in Colombo.
In a low-scoring encounter which India won, Ojha made scores of 21 & 35 and looked quite safe behind the stumps. But his performance wasn’t good enough to earn him a regular place in the side once Saha recovered from his injury. Ojha, who was never picked for India again, bid adieu to the game in early 2021.
5. Gurkeerat Singh Maan
Punjab right-hand batsman Gurkeerat Singh Mann received a huge vote of confidence from the selectors when he replaced an out-of-form Suresh Raina for the 2016 tour of Australia. Gurkeerat had earned his place on the back of impressive domestic first-class and List A performances.
However, the right-hand batsman couldn’t maintain his scoring ways at the highest level. Playing three games of the five-match ODI series against the Aussies, Gurkeerat managed only 16 runs, including 8 off 7 balls on his debut at MCG.
Gurkeerat would be livid with himself for missing out on one important opportunity in Canberra, where India needed him to resurrect their collapse and take them through in what became a high-pressure run-chase. But he missed out on that great chance to be India’s hero, scoring just 5 runs.
Gurkeerat played just one more innings for India and has been out of favour since.