Duleep Trophy: India Blue includes Ishant, Pankaj

Ishant Sharma and Pankaj Singh find a place in the India Blue squad as the National selectors strive to put up a decent combination for the penultimate round match of the Duleep Trophy starting at the GreenPark here on Tuesday.

Ishant Sharma hasn’t played any competitive cricket for six months.   -  AFP

Ishant Sharma and Pankaj Singh find a place in the India Blue squad as the National selectors strive to put up a decent combination for the penultimate round match of the Duleep Trophy starting at the GreenPark here on Tuesday.

In a must-win situation, India Green, led by Parthiv Patel, takes on India Blue, which has a draw against India Red that boosts its chances of making it to the final. India Red is assured of a place in the title contest following its victory over India Green in the opening match of the tournament, which wears a depleted and pitiable look this season.

On the verge of being dropped from the annual domestic calendar this season, the Duleep Trophy, once a prestigious tournament rated just a rung below Test cricket, has been reduced a competition few players wish to play in and fewer administrators show the interest to host it.

From a five-team zonal competition it is now a three-squad tournament where India Blue, Red and Green play each other under floodlights with a pink ball. Players have had issues with sighting the pink ball under lights but the organisers have not heeded to their complaints yet.

The batsmen have been finding it tough to pick the black seam of the ball. The ball, seaming or turning, tends to dip and that makes the batsman’s job all the more difficult. As India Blue skipper Suresh Raina remarked, “You can’t pick the seam from the bowler’s hand and it helps to rotate the strike and get used to it.” Reverse swing too adds to the challenge.

Looking at the game, Patel noted, “We have no choice but to play aggressively and try and win. We have to force a favourable result somehow.”

Rain on Monday continued to threaten the match, which becomes important for Ishant, who has not played any competitive cricket for six months after vainly trying for an English county stint. More rain would brighten India Blue’s passage to the final.

The teams (from):

India Green: Parthiv Patel (Capt, wk), Prashant Chopra, Nitin Saini, Kaushik Gandhi, Manpreet Juneja, Shivam Chowdhary, Amandeep Khare, Parveez Rasool, Mayank Dagar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Varun Aaron, Aniketh Chowdhary and Anupam Sanklecha.

India Blue: Suresh Raina (Capt), Samit Gohel, Abhimanyu Easwaran, KS Bharat, Manoj Tiwari, Deepak Hooda, Ishaan Kishan( wk), Akshay Wakhare, Bharghav Bhat, Ishant Sharma, Pankaj Rao, Jaydev Unadkat, Sagun Kamat and Pankaj Singh.