Assam cricketers who could have played for India

Assam Cricketers To Miss The Indian Bus By Whisker

Do you think there is some bias against Assam cricketers that the Indian selectors repeatedly ignore them? Do share your views. What should Assam cricketers focus on for making the cut to the Indian team? Do comment.

July 5, 2024

Assam cricketer Riyan Parag could etch his name in the history books by becoming the first male cricketer from the northeast to play for Team India; only if he is selected in the Indian Playing XI in the 1st T20 match against Zimbabwe in Harare.

A young Indian team led by Shubhman Gill is all set to face an equally young Zimbabwean side led by the very experienced Sikandar Raza.

Parag's spot in the Playing XI is 'guaranteed,' but... Yes, certain 'ifs' and 'buts' are beyond our control.

Now, before Riyan Parag has his big day out tomorrow, let us take a look at some of the cricketers from Assam who always kept knocking at the Indian door but missed the entrance by a whisker.

Rajesh Borah

Rajesh Kumar Borah represented Assam and Railways and is regarded as the "finest cricketer Assam has ever produced."

Borah was a right-handed batter and a right-arm off-break bowler. He made his first-class debut in 1983 at the age of 16 and represented India Under-19s in the 1986/87 season.

Rajesh Borah played for Assam between 1983/84 and 2000/01 and also represented the Railways for two seasons. His 62-ball 124 against Tripura in the 1988 Ranji Trophy season is still one of the fastest hundreds in Indian domestic cricket.

In 66 first-class matches, Borah scored 3,477 runs with 5 hundred and 17 fifties. His highest score was 235.

Borah also took 28 wickets by bowling his part-time off-breaks, with the best bowling figures being 4/110.

The enigmatic player also took 36 catches in the 66 First Class games that he played.

With a lack of organizational backing and cutthroat competition with players from states like Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Tamil Nadu, Rajesh Borah could not cross the final frontier.

"Ask Rajesh Da to hold one end for four days, and he will do it for you. He was technically very sound with a solid defence and an equally lethal offensive game," says Bhrigu Goswami, a former Assam cricketer.

Gautam Dutta

After Rajesh Borah, if there is any other player who deserved a place in the Indian team in the 90s and the 2000s, it is Gautam Dutta.

Dutta, who debuted for Assam in the 1989/90 Ranji Trophy season, is the finest fast-bowling all-rounder Assam has ever produced.

He was also a member of India's under-19 team during 1991/92

Gautam Dutta, a left-handed batter who also bowled left-handed, was Assam and East Zone's strike bowler during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Gautam Dutta played 53 first-class matches in his career. In these 53 matches, the Southpaw took 142 wickets at an average of 24.35 with an economy of 2.73 and registered the best figures of 9/52 in an innings.

Dutta also scored many crucial runs for the teams he played, including 8 fifties.

"If Gautam Da had played for Bengal, I am sure he would have got a chance to play for the Indian team. When he was at his peak, there was a dearth of fast-bowling all-rounders in the Indian team. Only God knows why the Indian selectors overlooked him," adds Bhrigu Goswami.

Syed Zakaria Zuffri

Syed Zakaria Zuffri is the unluckiest of all the players on this List. A left-handed batter, Zuffri is one of the finest wicket-keeper-batter India has ever produced.

In 76 first-class matches, Zuffri scored 3037 runs with an average of 24.69, with a highest score of 144, which by no mean is a small feat.

Zuffri also smashed 3 hundred and 15 fifties in his career in the 126 first-class innings he batted and remained unbeaten on three occasions.

In the 48 List-A matches that he played, Zuffri batted in 43 innings, scoring 1179 runs at an average of 31.86 with a highest score of 95. He smashed 6 fifties in his List-A career.

The talismanic wicket-keeper batter also took 196 catches—150 in FC and 46 in List A cricket.

He also inflicted 34 stumping in his career- 21 in FC and 13 in List A.

"Syed Zakaria Zuffri should have been a part of the Indian team. When India was looking for a composed and strong wicket-keeper-batter, Syed Zakaria Zuffri was the man of the hour. In fact, there are also reports that the then Team India captain Sourav Ganguly rooted for Zuffri and even fought with the selectors. But Syed Zakaria Zuffri could not cut," bemoans Bhrigu Goswami.

Javed Zaman

Javed Zaman is one of the greatest fast bowlers Assam has ever produced. He made his debut in the 1993/94 Ranji Trophy season and went on to play for the Railways and represent his home state.

In 47 first-class appearances, Zaman went on to take 122 wickets at an average of 30.07 and economy of 2.83 with a best of 7/87 in an innings.

He was also a handy batter who could lower the order and hit big sixes.

Cricket experts feel that though Zaman had all the qualities to break into the Indian team, there were other fast bowlers like him from other states whose statistics were a touch better. Because of this game of statistics, Zaman could not break into the league of extraordinary fast bowlers.

Parag Das

Parag Das, another explosive batter from Assam, always kept knocking on the door for a Team India selection.

In his 43 first-class matches, Das scored a total of 1936 runs at an average of 28.05, with a highest score of 118 and a smash of 1 hundred and 15 fifties.

Though his records do not speak highly about his abilities, he was far more impressive.

At a time when several players similar to Parag were selected for the Indian team only to disappear after a match or two, Parag could have done much better.

But, as they say, luck favours only a few and selected.

What he could not achieve, his son- Riyan Parag- is on the path to fulfilling it.

Arlen Konwar

Arlen Konwar, the highest wicket-taker for Assam in first-class cricket, is a right-arm off-break bowler. He is one of those Assam cricketers who could have made the Indian cut.

In 69 first-class matches, Konwar has scalped a total of 212 wickets at an average of 29.00, an economy of 2.66, and best bowling figures of 6/46.

He has one 10-wicket haul, 11 5-wicket haul, and 12 4-wicket haul in his career.

"Konwar was a good bowler, and many in Assam feel he should have made it to the Indian team. The only reason he did not make it was because many spin bowlers were competing at the same time, with some of them having a better record than Konwar's," adds Bhrigu Goswami.

Abu Nechim Ahmed

When Abu Nechim Ahmed was selected by the Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League in 2010, cricket fans in Assam buzzed that he could become the first cricketer from the state to break into the Indian Team.

But a below-par performance at IPL, leaving aside the wicket of Jacques Kallis, dashed all hopes.

Despite having a decent domestic record, Abu Nechim Ahmed seemed to have yet to gain the selectors' confidence, and he was overlooked.

Many feel that Abu needed to be properly treated by the IPL franchises he played for.

"Despite having a proper line and length and decent pace, Abu never got his due in IPL cricket. He was never groomed like some of his contemporaries from other states. If he was properly groomed, he might have donned the Blue," says Bhrigu Goswami.

These were some of the many Assam cricketers who, we feel, should have made the Indian Men's Cricket Team. If you think there are more, please mention them below.

Do you think there is some bias against Assam cricketers that the Indian selectors repeatedly ignore them? Do share your views.

Lastly, what should Assam cricketers focus on for making the cut to the Indian team? Do comment.

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