Eyes on stars and strugglers at Irani Cup

Sehwag leads a powerful Rest of India squad against the Ranji champions at the Wankhede Stadium.

Chance for Sehwag, Harbhajan et all to make amends before the Australia series.

ALSO SEE: Raina eyes Test comeback | Agarkar out with injury

MUMBAI: Discards and perpetual outsiders will gain another chance to catapult themselves into national reckoning as Ranji Trophy winners Mumbai take on a strong Rest of India side for the Irani Cup at the Wankhede Stadium, beginning Wednesday.

This will be second Irani Cup game this season, a move necessitated by a new schedule that dictates the tie to be held at the conclusion of the domestic season rather than at its commencement. Rest of India had thrashed last-year’s Ranji winners Rajasthan by an innings at Bangalore in September, the beginning of the domestic calendar.

In this edition, Rest will be led by Virender Sehwag – currently out of ODIs for India – and include names such as  off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and fast bowler S. Sreesanth, both of whom would be pressing hard for a decent performance that pushes their case for representing the country.

COMEBACK CALL

After being sidelined for the England ODIs, Sehwag will be seeking some form before the Australia Tests, while Harbhajan will look to make good on the sorry run that his chief competitor R. Ashwin seems to be on.

Harbhajan failed to impress on his return for two Tests against England – and was subsequently dropped. It remains to be seen what Sreesanth’s long injury-enforced absence from cricket has done to his bowling ability.

Rest also have openers Shikhar Dhawan and M. Vijay, who was part of the India squad but did not get a game against England in the home Tests.  Vijay has the singular honour of plundering the highest individual score in the history of the event – 266 versus Rajasthan in last-year’s edition at Bangalore.

Either opener can stake a claim for inclusion against Australia with a telling performance, since Gautam Gambhir has been struggling across formats. Suresh Raina, in stupendous form in the shorter formats, and the constantly unlucky Manoj Tiwary will add beef to Rest’s middle order.

The curious will also have an eye upon fast bowlers Shami Ahmed and Ishwar Pandey and whether they are deserving of a national slot in the upcoming season. Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha will have to assert himself on the contest after petering out against England late last year.

AGARKAR OUT

In the absence of the injured Ajit Agarkar (groin strain), Mumbai will be led on their home ground by the prolific all-rounder Abhishek Nayar, who had a grand day at Sunday’s IPL auction and was purchased by Pune Warriors for a humungous fee.

The responsibility comes to Nayar ahead of veteran compiler Wasim Jaffer, 34, who had last played a Test for India over five years ago against South Africa in Kanpur, and is the second-highest accumulator in Irani Trophy, behind the legendary G. Viswanath.

Others of interest in the Mumbai line-up include opener Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma. Rahane had a mediocre time in ODIs against England, while Sharma too had sporadic bouts of success amid a plethora of failures.

Sachin Tendulkar, having called it quits from ODIs, will also be in the thick of things. He will be looking forward to some more match practice ahead of the Australia series. Tendulkar was with Mumbai all through their knock-out phase in the Ranji Trophy this year before an unfortunate run-out in the final against Saurashtra curtained his participation.

Mumbai’s bowling, on a helpful Wankhede track, will be spearheaded by fast bowler Dhawal Kulkarni, who played a pivotal role in the semifinal and final for the Ranji champions.

Teams (from):
Mumbai: Ajit Agarkar (Capt.), Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Jaffer, Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Dhaval Kulkarni, Kaustubh Pawar, Abhishek Nayar, Hiken Shah, Aditya Tare, Ankit Chavan, Javed Khan, Shardul Thakur and Vishal Dabholkar.

Rest of India: Virender Sehwag (Capt.), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Manoj Tiwary, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha, Harbhajan Singh, S Sreesanth, Pragyan Ojha, Ishwar Pandey, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ambati Rayudu, Shami Ahmed and Jalaj Saxena.

Matches

MORE TOP STORIES TODAY

Punjab pull off another big chase

Punjab pull off another big chase

GAME 7, SHARJAH—Maxwell, Miller, Pujara chase down Rajasthan's 192. More »

Royal test for Kings

Royal test for Kings

Preview — Clash of philosophies between Australia-centric teams More »

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

Have nothing to prove to anybody — Sehwag

The Nawab of Najafgarh says a good run in IPL could help his chances of a comeback on India's tour to England in June. More »

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Shastri in proposed IPL probe panel

Some members stressed on the need for proposing names with an "impeccable record and clean image". More »

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Duminy steals first win for Delhi

Furious fifties by Duminy and Dinesh Karthik end a long losing streak for the Daredevils. More »

Five things England must do to bounce back

Five things England must do to bounce back

England have appointed a new head coach in Peter Moores. More »

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

AB, Parthiv seal Bangalore's second win

Royal Challengers overcame a stutter to cruise to the small target they were set by Mumbai Indians. More »

‘Felt like helpless minority’

‘Felt like helpless minority’

Former BCCI treasurer Ajay Shirke says emotions got the better of Srinivasan and he tried to oversimplify things by calling Meiyappan an “enthusiast.” More »

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

Srinivasan can attend BCCI meeting

His status as president of TNCA makes him eligible to attend the Working Committee meeting on Sunday. More »

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

No way back for Pietersen: ECB

Kevin Pietersen's hopes of reviving his international career appeared to end Saturday when ECB managing director Paul Downton said there was 'no way back'… More »

The world record that nearly wasn't

The world record that nearly wasn't

Twenty years ago this week, Brian Lara became Test cricket's highest scorer, but he almost didn't make it. More »

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Maxwell carves his parallel universe

Glenn Maxwell seems to project an icy disdain when at the crease. Match situations rarely faze him and the bubble in which he plays excludes everyone … More »

Moores gets second stint as coach

Moores gets second stint as coach

In a two-year spell from 2007 to 2009, the 51-year-old Moores led England in seven Test series. More »

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh senior players to see shrink

Bangladesh's senior players will have three sessions with a psychological skill development coach later this month More »

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

BCCI is not anybody’s property — Dalmiya

Dalmiya feels that Srinivasan’s ‘power hungry’ attitude isn’t helping matters. More »

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

Tough for bowlers: Saeed Ajmal

The 36-year-old believes the T20 format and rule changes in 50-over matches have made a real difference. More »

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

KP ridicules idea of day-night Tests

Kevin Pietersen has ridiculed the idea of day-night Test cricket, saying the game would be so different to proper Test cricket that we will need a whole… More »

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

Rajasthan edge low-scoring thriller

The bowlers restricted Hyderabad to 133 for 6 before Rahane and Binny took Rajasthan over the line. More »

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

Maxwell blitz takes Punjab home

The Kings XI batsman blasted a 43-ball 95 to help his team pull off a massive chase against Chennai Super Kings. More »

BCCI members want independent probe

BCCI members want independent probe

The board members are realising after the Supreme Court's observations that something has to be done — IS Bindra More »

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

'BCCI lacks leaders to take on Srini'

Two former BCCI presidents, Shashank Manohar and Jagmohan Dalmiya, have reacted strongly to the news of the BCCI calling an emergent meeting on Sunday… More »

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Delhi look for first points against confident Kolkata

Preview — The threat of Sunil Narine looms large again. More »

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Bangalore vs Mumbai: A battle of the big-hitters

Preview — Given the firepower in both line-ups, Dubai crowd may see another high-scorer More »

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj tees off to Sharjah's delight

Yuvraj Singh was hardly convincing to begin with against Delhi, but a big dose of crowd support and a helping of poor bowling meant he had the opportunity… More »