Teams look forward to a revamped Deodhar trophy

The zonal sides have been replaced with the Vijay Hazare Trophy champion Gujarat and two other teams – India 'A' and India 'B' which were regular fixtures in the Challenger Trophy.

India B's Baba Aparajith and Shreyas Iyer practicing on the eve of Deodhar Trophy.   -  Sandeep Saxena

In a season of changes in Indian cricket, the good old Deodhar Trophy -- a four-decade-old inter-zonal List 'A' event -- is all set to be played in its new avatar at the Green Park here through the week.

With the build-up for the upcoming World T20 in the priority, the BCCI may have tried to transform the zonal affair into a more competitive event for the players.

The zonal sides have been replaced with the Vijay Hazare Trophy champion Gujarat and two other teams – India 'A' and India 'B' which were regular fixtures in the Challenger Trophy.

With 9 a.m. starts in the height of winters, the teams will play each other once before the best two clashing in the final on Saturday. India 'A' and India 'B' will lock horns in the opening match on Monday.

“It is a combined form of Challenger and Deodhar. With three good teams it is going to be a good competition,” said India 'B' captain Unmukt Chand.

Railways all-rounder Karn Sharma said, “The best players will get good opportunity to showcase their talent. This can result in some tight contests.”

India 'B' coach Aashish Kapoor was a little cautious though. “The zonal event was monotonous. Now good players from smaller sides can play with others. We have to wait until the end to know how good is the change.”

The Ambati Rayudu-led India 'A' is studded with batsmen like Murali Vijay, Jalaj Saxena, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav and Naman Ojha. The spin department is replete with off-spinners Pervez Rasool and Jalaj Saxena, leg-spinner Amit Mishra and left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem. Even though Rayudu would miss Varun Aaron’s pace (the right-arm pacer is out due to an injury), he still has good seam bowlers in Siddharth Kaul, Sreenath Aravind and Krishna Das.

India 'B' looks formidable with its top-order batting comprising Unmukt, Shreyas Iyer, Mayank Agarwal, Suryakumar Yadav, Baba Aparajith, Dinesh Karthik and Sheldon Jackson. All-rounders in Karn, Pawan Negi and Stuart Binny provide balance to the side. Effective pacers in Dhawal Kulkarni, Shardul Thakur and Nathu Singh and off-spinner Jayant Yadav strengthen the attack.

After bagging the Vijay Hazare Trophy in style, Gujarat will look forward to make an impact again in the 50-over format.

Parthiv, Rujul Bhatt, Priyank Panchal, Chirag Gandhi and Manpreet Juneja form the core of Gujarat batting. All-rounder Axar Patel is also in fine touch, while R. P. Singh is ably leading the pace attack.

The team will miss the services of its star pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who is with the Indian squad Down Under.