The South Zone team for the Duleep Trophy has been announced. Interestingly, the newspaper report requests all the players “to assemble in Bangalore on January 20. For further details players may contact R. Sudhakar Rao, assistant secretary, on Phone No. 098440 41815.”
Surely, there is a better way to do this!
The Duleeps this year commences from Jan 22. In the absence of a foreign team — the sixth team — this season’s Duleep Trophy will be played on a knock-out basis. I am not sure why this has to be the case! This is one of the few occasions when the country’s elite players are playing against each other. To have them play just one game (perhaps) against the best of their peers is nothing short of baffling. Surely, the tournament can be played on a league basis!
Instead, South Zone and Central Zone, the teams placed at the bottom of their respective groups last season, will play a qualifying match in Bangalore from January 22. The winner will take on defending champions North Zone in the first semi-final, while East Zone clash with West Zone in the second semi-final. The final, will begin at on February 5 in Chennai.
Just as the BCCI got the New Zealand tour itinerary wrong, my feeling is that the BCCI has screwed this up too!
The SZ team itself is a mixed-bag. As Shankar points out in the comments section of a previous thread, how M. Vijay missed out and how Arjun Yadav — son of former India spinner, Shivlal Yadav — gets in, is a mystery.
It is terrific to see Abhinav Mukund get into the big league. He was the 4th biggest scorer in the Ranji Trophy with 856 runs and is just behind Wasim Jaffer, Ajinkya Rahane and Cheteshwar Pujara in the pecking order. As Srikanth Mangalam has pointed out, Abhinav Mukund, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli and R. Jadeja are possibly the future of Indian cricket.
It is also good to see Sreesanth making a comeback into the SZ team. Although L. Balaji has been playing well for the last year, to get into the big league once again indicates that his career is probably heading in the right direction once again.
The South Zone team in possible batting order is:
Abhinav Mukund, Robin Uthappa, Rahul Dravid, V.V.S. Laxman (captain), S. Badrinath (vice-captain), Dinesh Karthik (wk), R. Ashwin, P. Pragyan Ojha, L. Balaji, S. Sreeshanth, R. Vinay Kumar.
Subs: Suarav Bandekar, M. Suresh and S. Anoop Pai, N. Arjun Yadav,
Meanwhile, the West Zone squad has also been announced. It is a strong team with players like Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Dhawal Kulkarni and Sidharth Trivedi and Abhishek Nayar supporting West Zone veterans Wasim Jaffer and Parthiv Patel.
In a somewhat strange and inexplicable move, while batting in the Ranji Finals, Wasim Jaffer opened the Mumbai batting with wicket-keeper Vinayak Samant! With a player like Ajinkya Rahane in the midst, why would he do that? Having said that, Samant did make a big hundred in the second innings and Rahane didn’t do much in the game! So perhaps Jaffer got it right after all? But surely, one’s got to trust the opener with the job of opening, especially since Rahane was the second highest scorer in the championship with 1089 runs (Jaffer was the only other player to score more than 1000 runs in the season)!
The West Zone team (in possible batting order) is:
Wasim Jaffer (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Cheteshwar Pujara, Kedar Jadhav, Bhavik Thakkar, Abhishek Nayar, Parthiv Patel (wk), Ramesh Powar, Rajesh Pawar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sidharth Trivedi.
Subs: Ajay Shrikhande, Samad Fallah, Azharuddin Bilakhia and Ajitesh Argal.
This is an impressive batting line up in which the top three in the WZ batting order are the top three run getters (in that order) in the Ranji Trophy!
Of course, West Zone’s strength will be depleted by the absence of Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Rohit Sharma, Ravindra Jadeja, Yusuf Pathan and Irfan Pathan, who will all be in Sri Lanka, playing for India against Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, Mohnish Parmar, the Gujarat offie, has been banrred from playing the Duleep Trophy due to a suspect action! The 20-year-old off-spinner was (with 41 wickets at 19.53) the second highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy competition behind Dhawal Kukrani and Ravindra Jadeja!
I haven’t seen the team announcements for Central, North or East Zone.