Experienced Cheteshwar Pujara will look to stay connected to plan matters for the national team with a purposeful knock when they face Saurashtra full of five specialist openers in the Irani Cup clash.
While Madhya Pradesh are the 2021-22 Ranji Trophy champions, Saurashtra can take advantage of being the 2019-20 champions and participate in the Irani Trophy as one-on-one matches have not been played in consecutive seasons due to COVID-19. , gone are the days when the Rest of India vs Ranji Champions match was a digital national crew trial game, where an outstanding performance was a sure shot ticket to enter the national dressing room.
Further troubling plans for an Irani Cup in 2022 is the majority of players on the reserve bench and the rest of India’s squad, featuring in the latest A series against New Zealand.
The Saurashtra team has a fighting player, Pujara, whose Test career is at a crossroads and does not want to go the wrong way ahead of the away series in Bangladesh.
He has been a dream comer for Sussex in both the pink ball and white ball (List A) games, but whether the selectors will stick with him in Tests is another matter. But on his home ground where he has scored many truck runs, Pujara could prove more than a handful for young pace weapons like Umran Malik, Kuldeep Sen, Arjan Nagwaswala or new spinners especially R Sai Kishore and Sourav. Kumar.
However, the first problem facing the rest of India is that they have too many openers in their 15-man squad.
India ‘A’ pair of Priyank Panchal and Abhimanyu Iswaran did well against New Zealand ‘A’ with Yasswi Jaiswal scoring 265 in the Duleep Trophy final.
Then there can be Test opener Mayank Agarwal who is looking to make a comeback and youngster Yash Dhul who scored 770 runs in 5 first-class video games in his debut season. Apart from keeper Kona India, only captain Hanuma Bihari and Sarfaraz Khan type are the only 2 specialist batsmen.
The Saurashtra bowling attack could be led by Jaydev Unadkat, a pro in domestic cricket, who is bound to feel sorely short-changed indeed if he doesn’t get a nationwide name after 65 wickets in the 2019-20 season. There is Chetan Sakaria who will again take the ball to the right-handed batsmen.
Batting slowly on the floor, the spinners of each team will take the field from the third day.
Saurashtra: Jaydev Unadkat (captain), Cheteshwar Pujara, Sheldon Jackson, Arpit Vasavada, Chirag Jani, Kamlesh Makwana, Dharmendrasingh Jadeja, Prerak Mankad, Chetan Sakaria, Snell Patel, Vishwarajsingh Jadeja, Kushang Patel, Harvik Demas, Kimar Demas.
Rest of India: Hanuma Bihari (captain), Mayank Aggarwal, Priyank Panchal, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Yash Dhul, Sarfraz Khan, Yasswi Jaiswal, KS. India, Upendra Yadav, Jayant Yadav, Saurabh Kumar, R Sai Kishore, Mukesh Kumar, Umran Malik, Kuldeep Sen, Arjan Nagwaswala.