Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Shardul Thakur, Tushar Deshpande return for Mumbai

The selectors have left out Dhawal Kulkarni from the squad for its upcoming contest against Vidarbha.

I’m back: Tushar Deshpande is back after having been out of action for a month.   -  M. A. Sriram

Fast bowlers Shardul Thakur and Tushar Deshpande, having recovered from hamstring injuries, will bolster Mumbai’s pace attack for its must-win Ranji Trophy tie against defending champion Vidarbha, to be played in Nagpur from December 30. However, the selectors have left out Dhawal Kulkarni in a bid to not risk all the players who have recovered recently.

Chairman of selectors Ajit Agarkar insisted it wouldn’t be fair to refer to Kulkarni’s omission as being dropped. “It would be tough to risk three bowlers coming back from injury in the eleven, so unfortunately Dhawal misses out this match,” Agarkar told Sportstar on Thursday.

Risk averse

It is only logical for Mumbai to not field all the three pacers who have been sidelined for a while. Thakur broke down during his Test debut against Windies in October, while Deshpande has been out of action for a month. Kulkarni, too, missed the last three Ranji Trophy matches after hurting his ankle during the loss against Gujarat.

Mumbai had suffered heavily due to Deshpande breaking down in the first innings against Gujarat. The speedster — the star bowler in Mumbai’s triumphant Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign — had missed the previous fixture against Railways after hurting himself in his mysterious appearance in the Purshottam Trophy.

It is understood Dhawal Kulkarni (left) has been informed of the rationale for his omission. Photo: Vivek Bendre

 

Since the selectors, in consultation with the team management, wanted to avoid a similar situation, one cannot but feel for Kulkarni, who has had a tumultuous season. After leading Mumbai for the first time at the start of the season, the seasoned campaigner has been omitted from the squad despite being available for the first time ever since making his first-class debut in 2008-09.

‘Disappointing’

“It is disappointing to have missed out because I was fit and available,” Kulkarni said after the squad was announced on Thursday. It is understood that the selectors explained their rationale to Kulkarni before announcing the squad.

Read | Tushar Deshpande injury a case of bad timing

Kulkarni was named in the squad for its last game against Saurashtra but pulled out two days before the game since he wasn’t match-fit. Since then, he travelled to the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru and was cleared by the medical staff.

If Mumbai fails to claim at least six points — an outright win — in Nagpur, it will definitely not be able to make the cut for the knockouts.

The squad
  • Mumbai: Siddhesh Lad (c), Jay Bista, Vikrant Auti, Shreyas Iyer, Shubham Ranjane, Aditya Tare (wk), Shivam Dube, Shardul Thakur, Tanush Kotian,Tushar Deshpande, Royston Dias, Eknath Kerkar, Karsh Kothari, Dhrumil Matkar, Minad Manjrekar.