New face in Ranji squad

Jamshedpur, Feb. 9: Bokaro opener Sandeep Gupta was the lone new face in a 15-member Jharkhand Ranji squad that was announced late last night for the Inter-state (one day) Inter-Zonal League scheduled to be held in Calcutta. The seven-day tournament will kick off from February 16.

According to the list released by Jharkhand State Cricket Association, the team will be led by experienced left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and would have the likes of Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi and Rameez Nemat, all of who are in super form with the willow, to bolster its batting line up.

Gupta, officials said, had merited his place in the squad on the basis of his solid performance in the just-concluded senior inter-district (elite) cricket tournament for the HP Bodhanwala Trophy. The youngster had smashed two centuries during the tournament for Bokaro, something that caught the eyes of the selectors.

"Gupta possesses a very sound technique and can also be groomed for long format of Ranji. We thought this would be the apt time to give him a break in the one-day format," one of the selectors said.

The list of names released by the association consists 10 batsmen and five bowlers with some emerging players like Kumar Deobrat and wicket keeper Shiv Prakash Gautam expected to come up with some good performances.

The selection panel of JSCA has also given another opportunity to Deepak Chougule and Subroto Ghosh to prove their mettle.

Both players have been out of contention, though Chougule did manage to play three matches for the state in the last season. The right-hander's century in the recently concluded Corporate Cup in Indore probably tipped the scales in his favour, sources said.

Skipper Nadeem, who was the country's second leading wicket-taker in the last season of Ranji Trophy with 42 scalps, will rely for support and look forward to bowl in tandem with off-spinner Sunny Gupta, who performed steadily in the senior outings. Jaskaran Singh, Ajay Yadav and Rahul Shukla will handle the pace department of the team.

Team: Rameez Nemat, Aakash Verma, Ishank Jaggi, Saurabh Tiwary, Kumar Deobrat, Ajat Shatru Singh, S.P. Gautam, Shahbaz Nadeem (Captain), Sunny Gupta, Ajay Yadav, Jaskaran Singh, Rahul Shukla, Deepak Chougule, Sandeep Gupta, and Subrato Ghosh.

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