A fit again Wriddhiman Saha was today named in the Rest of India squad that will take on first-time Ranji Trophy champions in the Irani Cup to be held in Mumbai from January 20-24.
Cheteshwar Pujara will lead the 15-man squad comprising Karun Nair, who made waves with a triple hundred against England in the fifth and final Test in Chennai.
The selection of Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund, Jharkhand keeper-batsman Ishan Kishan and tournament top-wicket taker Shahbaz Nadeem (56 wickets)shows that consistent performances in the Ranji Trophy have been rewarded.
Saha will make a return following his recovery from a thigh injury he suffered in the second Test against England at Visakhapatnam in November.
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It will also be a contest of sorts between him and opposition captain Parthiv Patel, who replaced him in the England series and did a decent job in the subsequent three Test matches. Ranji’s highest run-scorer Panchal will get to play for his state side.
Mumbai opener Akhil Herwadkar (467 runs) has been preferred to teenage sensation and teammate Prithvi Shaw, who belied his age by hitting a hundred on First Class debut and that too in a Ranji Trophy semifinal followed by 71 in the final.
Bengal captain Manoj Tiwary is back in the mix with 643 runs to show for his efforts.
Himachal Pradesh’s Prashant Chopra, who is the third highest run-scorer in the Ranji Trophy with 978 runs is the only player from Plate Group to make the cut.
Haryana keeper Nitin Saini, despite his 989 runs missed out as Wriddhiman and Kishan both are in the squad.
Among paceers, Mumbai’s Shardul Thakur, Tamil Nadu’s Krishnamoorthy Vignesh, Punjab’s Siddharth Kaul.
Vidarbha’s off-spinner Akshay Wakhare is a surprise pick with 16 wickets from 8 matches this season. Paucity of off-spinners with Jayant Yadav being injured and Parveez rasool not being considered good enough for the longer version may have prompted Wakhare’s selection.
Rest of India (RoI) Team: Abhinav Mukund, Akhil Herwadkar, Cheteshwar Pujara (captain), Karun Nair, Manoj Tiwary, Wriddhiman Saha, Kuldeep Yadav, Shahbaz Nadeem, Pankaj Singh, K Vignesh, Siddarth Kaul, Shardul Thakur, Akshay Wakhare, Ishan Kishan, Prashant Chopra.