CIC unanimously backs Mumbai selection panel

CIC disregards members’ resolution; Iyer to lead Mumbai in SMAT20 Super League in Rahane’s absence.

The Ajit Agarkar-led senior selection panel has received the backing of MCA's Cricket Improvement Committee.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

The Cricket Improvement Committee (CIC) of the Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA’s) backed the senior selection panel headed by Ajit Agarkar to the hilt and also approved Mumbai’s squad for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy Super League, which starts in Indore from Friday.

At the end of a gruelling meeting that lasted more than three-and-a-half hours, Raju Kulkarni, the former India pacer who is the CIC chairman, announced the CIC “has unanimously backed the selectors”. “The CIC felt these cricketers are of great repute and their credentials cannot be doubted. That is why we have decided unanimously to not remove them,” Kulkarni added.

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A group of MCA members last month had passed a resolution on sacking the senior selection panel, which includes Agarkar, Nilesh Kulkarni, Ravi Thakkar and Sunil More. While the legality of the resolution was in question, the CIC’s decision on Tuesday meant the resolution of the alleged SGM has been disregarded by the CIC.

Rahane unavailable, Iyer set to lead

Ajinkya Rahane has made himself unavailable for the Super League after leading the team through the group stage. Rahane, whose return at the helm of the team’s affairs after missing the Ranji Trophy made it easier for the team to gel in Indore last week, is understood to have informed the selectors that fitness-related issues will result in him being unable to lead the troupe in Indore from March 8.

While his captaincy was impressive, Rahane failed to fire with the bat, tallying just 58 runs from six innings in Group C. His absence will mean Shreyas Iyer, the other IPL captain in Mumbai’s ranks, will lead the team and hope to help Mumbai end the season on a high. Opening batsman Jay Bista will replace Rahane in the squad.

Deshpande to play despite bereavement

Meanwhile, fast bowler Tushar Deshpande, who was instrumental in helping Mumbai lift the Vijay Hazare Trophy at the start of the season and in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy group stage last week, has decided to travel with the squad to Indore despite the death of his mother.

Desphande’s mother succumbed to a prolonged battle with cancer on Tuesday but the speedster has informed the association that he will put the team first. This is the second instance of a pace bowler joining the squad despite bereavement. Left-arm pacer Royston Dias lost his father during the Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign in September but rejoined the squad in just two days after attending the funeral.