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    J&K Rassol was hopeful of India 'A' cut

    Rassol finished on top of both batting and bowling charts for J&K with 594 runs, which included two centuries and 33 wickets.

    New Delhi: Promising allrounder from Jammu and Kashmir, Parvez Rassol was on Wednesday rewarded for his brilliant performance in this season's Ranji Trophy after he was named in the 14-member India A squad for the practice game against England here on January 6.

    Rassol finished on top of both batting and bowling charts for J&K with 594 runs, which included two centuries and 33 wickets. Rassol, thus, became the first cricketer from the state to have got a call up for the India 'A' team.

    Rassol was detained for questioning three years ago in Bangalore in connection with a suspected presence of explosives at the Chinnaswamy stadium ahead of a Champions League match. But he was given a clean chit a few days later.

    "It's the best news I have ever got. I was one of the better performers for my team in this season's Ranji Trophy. I had produced good all-round performances. So, at the back of mind I was hopeful of making it to the India A team," an ecstatic Rassol said after his selection.

    "The fact that J&K's performance in Ranji this year has been better has also helped my case. I have been playing first class cricket since 2008 but this has been my breakthrough year."

    However, Rassol is indebted to former India captain Bishan Singh Bedi for helping him shape up his dream. The allrounder feels that Bedi's entry as the chief coach helped him aim for bigger things.

    "Bedi sir has a huge role in my success. Initially, I was a batsman who could bowl part-time off-breaks but it was at his [Bedi] insistence that I began to concentrate more on developing my bowling skills," Rassol said.

    According to Rassol, it was the legendary left-arm spinner's tips on subtle variations that has helped him improve as an offspinner.

    "When someone of Bishan Bedi's stature tells you that 'you are the best offspinner in the state', you feel that you are special. Then you start working extra hard to repay the faith he has shown. He gave me tips about how to use variations in the flight. How to use the loop effectively and decide on field placings according to batsman's strength."

    Rassol also said that his selection in the 'A' team will open up avenues for other players in the state. "It is a huge boost, not only for me but for the entire team. It adds to the value of J&K cricketers. They will be looked in for IPL," said Rassol.

    "Like any other cricketer I also want to play for the country. Selection in India A means lot more than playing in the IPL. But yes, given an opportunity I will definitely look to be a part of the tournament."

    Apart from Rassol, another notable inclusion in the team is out-of-favour India pacer S Sreesanth, who last represented the senior team during India's tour of England in 2011. Sreesanth, who made a comeback to the Kerala Ranji team after spending more than a year recuperating from a toe-injury, has picked up 10 wickets from four games he has played this season.

    The Abhinav Mukund-led side, however, doesn't include any player from the sides that have qualified for the quarter-finals of the ongoing Ranji Trophy. Madhya Pradesh seamer Ishwar Pandey, the top-wicket taker in Ranji Trophy this season, has also been rewarded for his good showing with the ball.

    The first 50-over warm-up game will be played at the Palam Cricket Ground. England will also take on Delhi in their second warm-up game at Ferozshah Kotla ground on January 8 prior to the ODI series against India. India and England will play a five-match ODI series, starting January 11 in Rajkot.