Karnataka opener Mayank Agarwal is expected to lead the Rest of India (RoI) side in the 2022-23 Irani Cup tie against Madhya Pradesh at the Captain Roop Singh Stadium in Gwalior starting Wednesday.
While the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is yet to announce the RoI squad formally, Sportstar has learnt that Agarwal is set to captain a team comprising five opening batters.
Dropped from the India Test squad after the Sri Lanka series in early 2022, the 32-year-old Agarwal led Karnataka to the Ranji Trophy semifinal, where it lost to eventual champion Saurashtra at home in Bengaluru. Agarwal, who struck a double hundred (249) and 55 in the match, ended the red-ball tournament as the leading run-scorer with 990 runs from 13 innings, averaging 82.50 while recording three tons and six fifties.
Bengal batters Abimanyu Easwaran and Sudip Gharami are named alongside Mumbai opener Yashasvi Jaiswal. Easwaran earlier led India A in its red-ball tour to Bangladesh in November-December 2022, scoring successive centuries before following up with three more tons in the Ranji season. Wicketkeeper-opener Harvik Desai and left-arm seamer Chetan Sakariya are the only members from the Ranji Trophy title-winning Saurashtra team in the RoI squad.
Wicketkeeper Upendra Yadav, Baba Indrajith and Delhi skipper Yash Dhull are the other batting options in the squad.
No Sarfaraz Khan
A notable exclusion is that of the injured Mumbai batter Sarfaraz Khan, who had another impressive season with the bat, scoring 556 runs with a 90-plus average and three centuries.
Sarfaraz, currently with the Delhi Capitals camp for the upcoming IPL season, was seen nursing a finger injury on his Instagram handle.
Since the 2019-20 season, the 25-year-old has collected a whopping 2970 runs from 26 matches (12 centuries, seven half-centuries) at a staggering average of 106.07. His First-Class average of 79.65 after 54 innings is only second to Don Bradman (95.14).
Saurabh Kumar, Mayank Markande and Pulkit Narang complete the spin department. Baroda all-rounder Atit Shath, Mukesh Kumar and Navdeep Saini make up the seam options. Bengal pacer Akash Deep was also named in the 16-member team after becoming the leading wicket-taker among pacers in the Ranji season, with 41 wickets from 10 matches.
The Roop Singh Stadium, renowned for Sachin Tendulkar’s landmark ODI double century against South Africa during its last international game on February 2010, will be hosting its first senior First-Class match since December 2016.
Madhya Pradesh, the 2021-22 Ranji champion, which faltered in the semifinal against Bengal this season, is expected to be led by wicketkeeper Himanshu Mantri in the absence of regular skipper Aditya Shrivastava. While he was named in the squad, star batter Rajat Patidar is also set to miss the game due to an injury.
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