Injuries to frontline pacemen and uncertainty over the availability of some key players have forced the Tamil Nadu selectors to name a 16-member squad for the first Ranji game alone.

Tamil Nadu takes on Madhya Pradesh in its opening Ranji game of the season in Dindigul beginning November 1.

Speaking to Sportstar , former State wicket-keeper and selection panel member D. Girish said, “Initially we wanted to select the squad for the first three matches. But our top three pacemen K. Vignesh, Aswin Crist and T. Natarajan are injured and we don’t have a clear idea when they will return.”

Then there is the looming tour of India `A’ to New Zealand early November and several cricketers such as Murali Vijay, Vijay Shankar, Washington Sundar and Tamil Nadu skipper B. Indrajith could be in contention for that series.

“Those Tamil Nadu cricketers picked for the ‘A’ tour are likely to be unavailable for the first game. This is the reason we have still not named a vice-captain for the team,” said Girish.

For the game against Madhya Pradesh, the selectors have picked the experienced Dinesh Karthik but he will miss the match if selected in the Indian Twenty20 squad against the West Indies.

As of now, R. Ashwin looks likely to figure against Madhya Pradesh. The experienced Abhinav Mukund will also feature in the eleven.

Pace-bowling all-rounder S. Abhishek Tanwar is the new face in the Ranji squad. J. Kousik is another cricketer of this breed in the side that will have M. Mohammed leading the pace pack. If Vijay Shankar doesn’t travel with the ‘A’ team, he is yet another pace-bowling all-rounder in the Tamil Nadu ranks.

Left-arm spinners Rahil Shah and R. Sai Kishore join off-spinners Ashwin and Washington in the spin attack.

Although he was not picked for this game, Girish said C.V. Varun, with his assorted spin, was very much in selectors’ mind. “He has had so much success in the Twenty20 and one-day formats. We do not want to rush him into the longer format. But he is in our plans, particularly when we are seeking full points.”

The squad: B. Indrajith (captain), M. Vijay,  Abhinav Mukund, M. Kaushik Gandhi, Vijay Shankar, B. Aparajith, K. Dinesh Karthik (wk), N. Jagadeesan (wk), M.S. Washington Sundar, R. Ashwin, R. Sai Kishore, Rahil Shah, M. Mohammad, J. Kousik,  R. Rohit, S. Abhishek Tanwar.