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India vs South Africa: Honoured to be a part of India Test squad, ready to bat in any position, says Priyank Panchal | Cricket News – Times of India


NEW DELHI: Priyank Panchal had just returned from the India A tour of South Africa and was spending time with his family.
On Monday morning, his phone started ringing. Priyank, who was in the middle of a conversation with his family, picked up the phone and went into his room. When he returned, there was a big smile on his face and he broke the big news to his family. He had got a call up for the Indian Test squad for the upcoming South Africa tour.

The Gujarat batsman replaced Rohit Sharma in the India squad. Rohit sustained a left hamstring injury during a training session in Mumbai and was ruled out of the upcoming 3-match Test series vs South Africa, starting with the Boxing Day Test (December 26) at the SuperSport Park in Centurion. The second Test will be played from January 3 at the Wanderers in Johannesburg and the third and final Test will be hosted by Newlands in Cape Town from January 11.

“I was at home when I got the call-up. I am really happy. It’s every cricketer’s dream to don the India colours and jerseys and nothing in the world can truly express this feeling. I am lucky that I am living this dream. I am really excited. I am looking forward to joining this star-studded squad. This Indian team is very strong. Be it bowling or batting, every box is perfectly ticked in our squad. We have experienced players. I am really lucky and honoured to be a part of this squad,” Panchal told TimesofIndia.com.
Panchal, who has just come back from South African conditions will be needed to find the same focus he showed while playing for India A recently.

Panchal captained the India A team in two of the three Unofficial Tests vs South Africa A recently and scored 120 runs in 2 matches, including a 96 off 171 balls in the first Unofficial Test.
“I just came back from the India A tour in South Africa. I was leading the team. I scored 96 runs and missed out on a century but had a wonderful experience on the tour. I am well aware of the conditions in South Africa. If I get a chance, the experience of playing in South Africa will definitely help me. As far as the challenges are concerned, I have prepared myself in such a way that I am ready for any challenge,” Panchal, who has 7011 runs in 100 first-class matches for Gujarat at an average of 45.52, including 24 centuries and 25 fifties, further told TimesofIndia.com.

Panchal was incidentally also part of the India Test squad as a stand-by player against the visiting England team in February-March earlier this year. He was released for the Vijay Hazare Trophy ahead of the last two Tests. India had won the four-match Test series 3-1 and Panchal had a wonderful time in the Indian dressing room during the first two Tests.
Now that the 31 year old from Ahmedabad is part of the Test squad as a full member, he will have to be at his best. Coming into the squad as a replacement for Rohit Sharma, Panchal could be asked to open the innings if he is included in the playing XI. It’s a role he played for India A in South Africa recently as well, where he opened with Prithvi Shaw.
“I am ready to bat in any position and in any situation. As a cricketer, I have to always be ready and do well when my team needs me the most. If captain Virat bhai or coach Rahul sir ask me to bat in a specific position, I will be ready. I am very excited to meet Dravid sir and Virat bhai,” Panchal, who also has 14 First Class wickets under his belt with his right arm medium bowling, further said.

(TOI Photo)
“I was with the Indian team when the England team came to India for the Test series. I met Virat bhai and discussed batting techniques with him. I got to interact with other players who have been playing for a long time as well. I know the atmosphere within the team. It is awesome and I am eager to be a part of it. I know Rahul sir. I have been playing for India A for 4 years and Rahul sir was there for guidance. I am eager to accept this new challenge and I am very excited,” Panchal told TimesofIndia.com.
Will the fact that he has been called up as a direct replacement for Rohit Sharma, the India Test vice captain and the new Indian limited overs captain add any extra pressure? To this question Panchal said : “I don’t like comparisons. I don’t compare myself with anyone. I am really happy and thankful that the selectors have given me an opportunity and if I get a chance to play, I won’t disappoint. I am thankful to the selectors, the coaches, my fellow players, and of course my family who helped me reach this stage.” Panchal signed off.





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