Karnataka’s Mayank Agarwal was named as the captain of the Rest of India team which will take on Madhya Pradesh in the Irani Cup, to be played at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium in Gwalior from March 1.
Agarwal has been rewarded for being the leading run-scorer of the recently-concluded Ranji Trophy season where he scored 990 runs in 13 innings, with a highest score of 249. Agarwal, who last featured for India in a Test match against Sri Lanka in March last year, will be aiming to continue his good run with the bat and stake his claim for a place in the Indian team.
Mumbai’s run machine Sarfaraz Khan, who has also been pushing for a place in the Indian team, suffered a huge setback as he was ruled out of the match because of injury.
“Sarfaraz Khan was unavailable for selection owing to a hairline fracture on his left little finger. The All-India Senior Selection Committee named Baba Indrajith as his replacement for the tournament,” said BCCI in a media release on Monday.
The Irani Cup venue was shifted to Gwalior from Indore after the third India-Australia Test was shifted to the Holkar Stadium from Dharamsala.
The Irani Cup match will mark Gwalior’s return to first-class competition after more than six years.
Bengal’s Abhimanyu Easwaran, who was part of the Indian squad which played a two-Test series in Bangladesh in December, will also be aiming to catch the attention of the selectors with a good showing with the bat. He had previously led India ‘A’ on their tour to Bangladesh when he scored two consecutive hundreds.
The other top-order batsmen on the Rest of India team include Yash Dhull, Sudip Kumar Gharami, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Baba Indrajith and Sudip Kumar Gharami.
Only two members of Saurashtra’s Ranji Trophy-winning team were chosen in left-arm seamer Chetan Sakariya and wicketkeeper-opener Harvik Desai.
A four-man attack featuring Sakariya, Navdeep Saini from Delhi, and Mukesh Kumar and Akash Deep from Bengal completes the fast-bowling unit’s well-rounded composition.
Kerala all-rounder Jalaj Saxena and Mumbai’s Shams Mulani, two of the season’s top wicket-takers, are not a part of the Irani squad despite having taken 50 and 46 wickets, respectively.
In the absence of regular captain Aditya Shrivastava, wicketkeeper-batsman Himanshu Mantri will lead Madhya Pradesh. With Rajat Patidar, Venkatesh Iyer, Avesh Khan, Shubham Sharma, and Yash Dubey all in the mix, the core group that won the Ranji Trophy in June of last year has mostly been retained.
Rest of India: Mayank Agarwal (captain), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Yash Dhull, Baba Indrajith, Upendra Yadav(WK), Atit Sheth, Saurabh Kumar, Harvik Desai, Navdeep Saini, Mukesh Kumar, Chetan Sakariya, Akash Deep, Mayank Markande, Pulkit Narang, Sudip Kumar Gharami.
Madhya Pradesh: Himanshu Mantri (captain, w/k), Rajat Patidar, Yash Dubey, Harsh Gawli, Shubham Sharma, Venkatesh Iyer, Akshat Raghuwanshi, Aman Solanki, Kumar Kartikeya, Saransh Jain, Avesh Khan, Ankit Kushwah, Gaurav Yadav, Anubhav Agarwal, Mihir Hirwani.
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