All-rounder Jay Bista has forced his way into the Mumbai team for the Irani Cup match against Rest of India, to be played here, at the Brabourne Stadium, from Sunday. Dropped after the quarterfinal against Jharkhand at Mysuru, even after a a five for 16 in the second innings, bowling off-spin, Bista cracked a double century (217) against Madhya Pradesh in the C.K. Nayudu Under-23 Trophy final at Indore.

During the course of the first net session here on Friday, the MCA senior selection committee chaired by Milind Rege, added Bista to the 15-member squad that was chosen for the Ranji Trophy final against Saurashtra. Perhaps the team management and the selectors were unhappy with Bista’s showing in his role as an opener in the four matches, against Railways, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Jharkhand.

“He (Bista) deserves to be back in the team after scoring a double century in the under-23 final. I hope he does well should he get the opportunity to play in the match,” said Mumbai coach Chandrakant Pandit.

The season-ending first class match has evoked considerable interest because of the consistent performances of a number of Mumbai and Rest players. Pandit said: “Every individual would be planning to put up a fighting performance. Mumbai has always played the Irani Cup very seriously because it is competing against the stalwarts of the rest of the country. I played against Kapil Dev in 1985. Mumbai has won the Irani Cup 15 times, but it has not been able to win the trophy since 1997-98. We talked about it this morning (before the start of the first practice session after the Ranji Trophy win).

“The national selectors are going to watch this match. The players have done well right through the season and this match gives them another opportunity. Anybody who does well may either come into the India reckoning or get selected for India.’’

On the road from last October, Mumbai can be expected to be a weary lot and Pandit understands the situation. “The players have been busy. After the Ranji Trophy final, six of them played in the PSPB inter-unit T20 in Goa. There was a need to give them some rest; the bowlers have sent down 300 to 400 overs in the season. Moreover, we have been pretty serious with the practice sessions also. The team also took the load of a five-day final in three days. The important thing now is that the players maintain their fitness in order to be able to give their best shot over a period of five days in the Irani Cup.”

Speaking of the exceptional skills demonstrated by skipper Aditya Tare, Pandit said: “He’s taken the load of three jobs; batsman, 'keeper and captain. So he’s done a lot for the team. He has been performing well behind the stumps as well. He has improved technically as a ‘keeper. It’s not easy for any ‘keeper doing his job for 120 or 150 overs every match. I was a wicketkeeper and hence I know the work load.”

The team: Aditya Tare (Captain), Abhishek Nayar, Dhaval Kulkarni, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav, Akhil Herwadkar, Siddhesh Lad, Sufiyan Shaikh, Nikhil Patil (Jr.), Iqbal Abdullah, Shardul Thakur, Balwinder Singh Sandhu (Jr.), Badre Alam, Bhavin Thakkar, Vishal Dabholkar and Jay Bista.