Bhuvneshwar returns to UP Ranji squad

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who has completed his rehab from the back strain, will add the ex-factor to the Uttar Pradesh team, which has been missing out on experience all the season.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar back injury

Bhuvneshwar Kumar has recovered from a back sprain.   -  K.R. Deepak

Bhuvneshwar Kumar, the in-form pace bowler who had done his back in during India’s second Test against New Zealand last month, will return to action during Uttar Pradesh’s Ranji Trophy Group A tie against defending champion Mumbai, to be played at the Srikantadatta Narasimha Raja Wadeyar Ground from Sunday.

As much as the development brings music to the ears of Indian cricket fans, it will also be a morale-booster for a depleted Uttar Pradesh side. After all, the usually-formidable unit finds itself in danger of being relegated after garnering just four points from five matches so far.

Ever since adding pace to his armoury, Kumar has picked a fifer in each of his last two Tests. The swing bowler, who arrived here after being certified at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru after completing his rehab from the back strain, will add the ex-factor to the Uttar Pradesh team, which has been missing out on experience all the season.

While Praveen Kumar hasn’t featured in a single match, Suresh Raina has been sidelined ever since the season-opener due to a viral fever. Seasoned Piyush Chawla has been sidelined with a hamstring injury, thus leaving little experience in the side.

It has reflected in the fact that UP has had three captains in the season so far. Come Sunday, and when Kumar walks out for the toss, he will add to the long list of captains for his team.

Double blow for Mumbai

While UP has been bolstered with Kumar’s addition, Mumbai’s concerns in the bowling department doubled up. While pace spearhead Dhawal Kulkarni was not cleared fit for the match after being sidelined due to a bout of fever, left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil flew back to Mumbai after hurting the middle finger of his bowling hand.

Gohil’s injury has resulted in Aditya Dhumal, the left-arm spinner who picked a fifer against Vidarbha in a Col. C.K. Nayudu Trophy (U-23) game at the Wankhede Stadium earlier in the week, being summoned to join the squad. Dhumal joined the senior team along with opener Jay Bista, who had been released to get a hit after being benched for the last three games.

Sarfraz ‘rested’

Sarfraz Khan, the middle-order batsman who switched to UP after spending his formative years in Mumbai, will not be able to face his old mates. According to a UPCA statement, he is one of the four players rested by the selectors. It is, however, understood that he is recovering from a sprained ankle. The young batsman, just like most of the other UP batsmen, has failed to fire this season, scoring 236 runs in eight innings at 29.50 this season.