Irani Cup gets facelift, Sehwag to captain Rest of India

BPXI, India A teams to take on the visiting Australians also named.

Sehwag had been dropped from the Indian team for poor form.

Virender Sehwag has been named captain of the Rest Of India squad that will take on the Ranji Trophy-winning Mumbai in the new-look Irani Trophy this month.

The Irani Trophy, since its inception in 1959-60, has been played at the beginning of the Indian cricket season that typically starts after the rainy season. This year onwards, it will be played after the Ranji Trophy. This year’s fixture is at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium between February 6 and 10.

The national selection committee have named one of the strongest ROI squads in recent memory. Most of the 14 members of the have played for India in recent times.

Harbhajan Singh, S. Sreesanth, Suresh Raina, Pragyan Ojha, Shami Ahmed, Manoj Tiwary and Murali Vijay and the rest will be pitted against Ajit Agarkar’s Mumbai who bounced back after a poor start to their Ranji campaign to emerge victors in a one-sided final against Saurashtra.

Rest of India, who have traditionally played the top domestic stars of the country, have won 11 of the 13 Irani Trophy editions since the turn of the century. They are unbeaten since 2006. Since 2000, Railways have been the only team to beat them, twice.

The game will be a great opportunity for players like Sehwag, Sreesanth and Harbhajan to make a mark before the Test series against Australia.

The selectors have also named the Board President’s XI that will play a two-day game with Australia in Chennai, February 12 and 13. Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund will lead that team with plenty of domestic heavyweights by his side.

Shikhar Dhawan, who features in the ROI squad, will captain the India ‘A’ team in a three-day game against the Australians, also to be played in Chennai from February 16.

The four-match Test series against Australia begins in Chennai on February 22.

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

BOARD PRESIDENT’S XI: Abhinav Mukund (C), Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Parthiv Patel (WK), Stuart Binny, Sarabjit Ladda, Parvez Rassol, Shami Ahmed, Parvinder Awana, Kamlesh Makwana.

Shikhar Dhawan (C), Jiwanjyot Singh, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary, Ajinkya Rahane, C. Gautam, Rakesh Dhruv, Jalaj Saxena, Manpreet Gony, Vinay Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Ashok Menaria.