Sachin Baby retained Kerala captain for Ranji Trophy

Sachin Baby, who was overlooked for the top job in the domestic limited overs competitions for Robin Uthappa, but was retained as the Ranji Trophy team captain.

Sachin Baby will work as the skipper of the Kerala Ranji Trophy team for the third successive season under coach Dav Whatmore.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Sachin Baby, who was at the helm when Kerala reached the quarterfinals and semifinals of the Ranji Trophy over the last two years, has been retained as captain of the 16-member squad announced here on Saturday.

The middle-order left handed batsman’s selection as skipper comes after he was overlooked for the top job for Robin Uthappa in the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali tournaments.

The team for the first match (against Delhi in the Elite A and B group here from December 9 to 12) will miss the service of prolific batsman Sanju V. Samson, who has been included in the Indian Twenty20 squad against West Indies in the home series starting in Mumbai on December 6. In the absence of Sanju, Rohan Kunnunmel and S. Midhun have been included in the team for the first time.

The two players were tried out in the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament in which Kerala failed to qualify for the Super League stage. Rohan Prem, who usually plays No. 3, has been included in the side, but his selection will be subject to him proving his fitness.

The team being coached by Australian coach Dav Whatmore is already undergoing a preparatory camp at the St. Xavier’s Stadium, Thumba in the last three-four days. The stadium is to be the venue for all of Kerala’s home matches.

After its match against Delhi, Kerala will play against Bengal (December 17-20, home), Gujarat (December 25-28, away, Surat), Hyderabad (January 3 to 6, away, Hyderabad), Punjab (January 11-14, home), Rajasthan (January 19-22, home), Andhra (January 27-30, away, Vizag) and Vidarbha (February 4-7, away, Nagpur) in the subsequent rounds.

The team

Sachin Baby (captain), P. Rahul, Jalaj Saxena, Robin Uthappa, Vishnu Vinod, Rohan Prem, Salman Nizar, Mohammed Azharudeen, Akshay Chandran, Sijimon Joseph, Sandeep Warrier, K.M. Asif, Basil Thampi, M.D. Nidheesh, Rohan Kunnunmel, S. Midhun.

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