Mumbai: Rest of India led by Cheteshwar Pujara will take on first time Ranji Trophy champions Gujarat in the five-day Irani Cup match here from Friday. Charismatic wicket-keeper batsman Parthiv Patel leads Gujarat. An interesting sub-plot would be the tussle between Parthiv and his opposite number Wriddhiman Saha.
Patel, who made a Test comeback in the last series against England, has been consistent for Gujarat and signed off the Ranji season with match winning knocks of 90 and 143 in the final against Mumbai in Indore. Saha, who missed the last three Tests against England, is making a comeback after an injury lay-off. He has been India’s first choice wicketkeeper after MS Dhoni’s Test retirement and the Bengal cricketer will want to put up a solid show and display his fitness.
RoI also have Karun Nair in their ranks who is fresh from a triple century in the last Test he played against England. Incidentally, Nair made his maiden first-class triple century at nearby Wankhede Stadium in 2015 to lead Karnataka to Ranji Trophy victory after defeating Tamil Nadu in the final. Bengal batsman Manoj Tiwary, who has been part of many Indian squads in the past without actually playing, will also get an opportunity to make a case for himself. Opening batsman Akhil Herwadkar and pacer Shardul Thakur will add local flavour. Tamil Nadu skipper Abhinav Mukund will add experience at the top.
The highest wicket-taker in last season’s Ranji trophy Shahbaz Nadeem will lead spin attack with chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav and surprise inclusion Akshay Wakhare from Vidarbha. Experienced Rajasthan pacer Pankaj Singh, Tamil Nadu’s K Vignesh, and Punjab’s Siddarth Kaul form pace-attack along with Thakur....