With the Vivo-IPL season 9 set to start on April 9, the eight franchise teams are going all out to put fitness routine in place so that all players are available for selection right from the first match. The players, too, have realised the importance of the Twenty20 league and do not want to run the risk of getting injured or aggravating a niggle.
>Allrounder Jay Bista included in Mumbai's squad for Irani Cup
Rajasthan’s tyro seamer Nathu Singh, who was bought at Rs. 3.2 crore by Mumbai Indians at the auction and Punjab left- arm seamer Barinder Sran (chosen by Sunrisers Hyderabad for Rs. 1.2 crore) were far from spectacular in the Ranji Trophy season. But they were included in the Rest of India squad for the Irani Cup match set to start at the Brabourne Stadium on Sunday.
The RoI team was selected at the conclusion of the Ranji Trophy final between Mumbai and Saurashtra on February 26, but after eight days, it was the Railways’ Anureet Singh and Uttar Pradesh’s Ankit Singh Rajpoot who reported for the RoI’s training session here. The BCCI informed the RoI coach Ashish Kapoor that Anureet and Ankit (bought by KKR for Rs. 1.5 crore) are the replacements for the injured Nathu Singh and Sran. The national selectors even checked out on Delhi seamer Pradeep Sangwan, but it’s understood that he, too, is on the 'niggle list'.
Anureet Singh, a right-hand seamer, is a seasoned campaigner in first class competitions and he has troubled some of the best batsmen on helpful tracks. He has taken 32 wickets this season. Uttar Pradesh’s Rajpoot has played 17 first class matches and taken 70 wickets, but injury kept him out of action from the fourth week of last November. He played a stellar role, though, in Uttar Pradesh’s Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy win, taking 14 wickets.
The change in the RoI team composition may have slightly affected its pace department strength because the highly-rated Sran played three One-Day Internationals (ODIs) against Australia and Nathu Singh played the high-profile warm up game against South Africa at the Brabourne Stadium last October. But RoI skipper Naman Ojha said his team has the basic structure and quality in place to play a multiple-day match.
'Hungry to perform'
“The players have been selected because of their performance. Mumbai is a good team that has won the Ranji Trophy. But it will be a good contest. I am not surprised that Mumbai has not won the Irani Cup since 1997-98 because the Rest of India team has always been a good side. I don’t need to tell anything to my players because they are all motivated to play for India. I could make out in the practice session that they are all hungry to perform. So it will be easy to captain a team like this.”
Mumbai – winner of the Irani Cup 15 times – will make a concerted effort to win one more title. “We have achieved our goal of this season which was to win the Ranji Trophy. But that’s history now. What lies ahead is important and that’s the Irani Cup. It’s a very historical tournament which matters a lot to us. So we are geared up again and we have prepared well. It’s a good challenge for us and also a good motivation to do something special again. The Irani Cup is seen as a big event, a launching pad; I think everyone looks at it as an important match,” said Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare.
Mumbai: Aditya Tare (Captain), Akhil Herwadkar, Jay Bista, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Siddhesh Lad , Abhishek Nayar, Iqbal Abdullah, Dhaval Kulkarni, Shardul Thakur, Balwinder Singh Sandhu (Jr.), Badre Alam, Bhavin Thakkar, Sufiyan Shaikh, Nikhil Patil (Jr.) and Vishal Dabholkar.
Rest of India: Naman Ojha (Captain), Faiz Fazal, Karun Nair, Sheldon Jackson, Stuart Binny, Shahbaz Nadeem, Jayant Yadav, Jaydev Unadkat, Krishna Das, Sudeep Chatterjee, Ian Dev Singh, Akshay Wakhare, K. S. Bharat, Anureet Singh and Ankit Singh Rajpoot.