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BCCI would do well to ‘invest’ in Priyank Panchal

BCCI would do well to ‘invest’ in Priyank Panchal: With a tally of 1,310 runs from 10 games (17 innings) at an average of 87.33 and with the individual best of an unbeaten 314* runs in the recently concluded Ranji Trophy 2016-17 season, 26-year old Priyank Panchal of Gujarat was ‘encouraged’ further by the BCCI selectors, including him in the India A squad to play a ‘two-day’ game against the visiting Bangladesh.

Panchal carried forward his good form in Ranji Trophy outings into the encounter against Bangladesh and vindicated the selectors’ decision.

In the ‘two-days-single innings each side’ game that is underway (at the time of writing this report), at Gymkhana Ground, Hyderabad, the visitors won the toss and elected to bat.

Restricting the opposition to 224 runs for the loss of 6 wickets decl after 67 overs, India A led by Abhinav Mukund, commenced their chase with the opening pair of Priyank Panchal and the skipper.

Losing Mukund (16) early on, the young pair of Panchal and Shreyas Iyer consolidated the innings and added 159 runs for the second wicket, when Iyer ‘retired hurt’ after scoring exactly 100 runs, facing 92 deliveries, with 12 fours and 4 sixes.

Another 43 runs later, the young Gujarat batsman also ‘retired hurt’ but not before notching up a well made 103 runs aided by 11 fours and a six, facing 148 deliveries.

Not only has Panchal displayed his batting acumen, he has also gone ahead to give confidence to the selectors that he is one who should be in their radar and ‘blooded in’ at the appropriate time.

Playing in the domestic games, eventually Panchal also entered into the ‘record books’ by becoming the first-ever batsman from the state (Gujarat) Ranji Team to score 1,000+ runs in a season. This feat he achieved while playing in the game against Tamil Nadu at the KSCA Stadium, Belagavy.

Since making his First Class debut against Saurashtra in Nov 2008, Panchal has featured in 54 FC games (87 innings – unbeaten on four occasions) and has a tally of 3,634 runs, at an average of 43.78, with 314* being his individual best. He also has 11 centuries and 13 half-centuries to his credit.

Priyank made his first appearance for the U15 team in the Polly Umrigar Trophy in 2003-04. He moved upwards to the U17 team and played in the Vijay Merchant Trophy 2005-06.

Starting the 2007-08 season with an appearance in India U19 team, Panchal made his List A debut for the senior team against Maharashtra in Feb 2008. From then on there has been no ‘looking back’ for this youngster.

Speaking to ESPNCricinfo about his success in this season’s Ranji Trophy, he said,”The focus is not that much on technique now, personally. I have confidence that if I spend time at the crease, I will score runs. When I spent time at NCA in my junior days, there was a lot of emphasis on change in technique, but it wasn”t working. My reasoning was if I spend so much time on technique, how will I be able to focus on runs? I”ve felt I need to hone my natural ability. Apart from that, the mental aspect is important – which bowlers do you line up, which bowler you try and play out? The situational awareness has helped me.”

The confidence and assurance he possesses today are a result of some conscious changes he has made to his game over the years.

The youngster has clearly ended the season ‘on a high’ both personally and as a team (with Gujarat winning the coveted trophy).

Now here is a guy in ‘red hot form’ and the BCCI selectors would do well to ‘invest’ in this youngster and provide him the all important ‘break-through’ to represent the country at the appropriate time.

Panchal should be ‘making it big’, sooner than later.

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