Gujarat opener Priyank Panchal is likely to lead India A in three four-day ‘Tests’ against New Zealand A, starting in Bengaluru from September 1. While the national selection committee led by Chetan Sharma will meet on Monday to determine the red and white ball ‘A’ teams for the New Zealand series, it has been learned that former Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane’s comeback in competitive cricket will take place at the Duleep Trophy. Rahane suffered a groin injury during the last IPL and had undergone an intensive rehabilitation with his international career at crossroads after being overlooked on the test squad.
“Rahane has not played cricket lately and therefore the selectors will immediately not put him in India A where many artists are waiting. I think he will play for West Zone in the Duleep Trophy and take over from then on,” a senior BCCI official knowledge of developments told PTI on terms of anonymity.
Obviously Rahane is not in the schedule of things for the Bangladesh tour in December, but a good Ranji Trophy season just might get him back in the mix for the big home series against Australia.
It has also been learned that Rahane has committed to play the full season for Mumbai in the domestic season and will lead the squad.
Players who went for ‘A’ tour in South Africa to get preference
Panchal, who led India A in South Africa, is likely to be tasked with the task again.
“Panchal is currently playing for Chemplast in Chennai in some friendly matches as he needed training and it is currently monsoon in Gujarat,” a senior JSA official confirmed the development.
As he led the team well, there is little chance of his being substituted, although Hanuma Vihari is also likely to be picked and will be the oldest player in the pack.
The likes of Abhimanyu Easwaran, Baba Aparajith, Upendra Yadav, Saurabh Kumar and KS Bharat are all set to be part of the red ball squad.
Opener Mayank Agarwal just might get another chance to revive his international career.
Prasidh Krishna, who is now part of the Test squad and Navdeep Saini, are set to be selected for the A games. Shivam Mavi and Kamlesh Nagarkoti, two injury-prone juniors in whom BCCI and NCA have invested heavily, could also take a look.
The pace sensation of Jammu and Kashmir Umran Malik, one of the best raw fast bowling talents, could also get a podium.
Sarfaraz Khan (982 runs), who was in South Africa and had a great Ranji Trophy season, is a good pick for all three ‘Tests’.
Rajat Patidar, after a fine IPL and 600 plus runs in Ranji Trophy, is also an automatic pick.
While Mumbai man Shams Mulani with 45 wickets and 321 would consider himself a contender, but an Indian set-up where fitness is paramount, his stocky frame and slow coachfielding could be a hindrance.
Saurabh Kumar and Shahbaz Ahmed of Bengal, who has scored nearly 500 runs and 20 wickets this season and is currently in Zimbabwe, could also be ahead in the race.
Delhi’s U-19 World Cup winning skipper Yash Dhull and Bengal’s fast medium swing bowler Mukesh Kumar could also be in the mix for the red ball format.
Mohammed Siraj and Shubman Gill are not eligible for the series.
Most Zimbabwe White Ball Game Series Players
The white ball leg of the New Zealand series will mainly consist of players currently playing the ODI series in Zimbabwe. The likes of Ruturaj Gaikwad, Ishan Kishan, Sanju Samson, Avesh Khan, Kuldeep Yadav, Shahbaz Ahmed will all be part of the series. Rishi Dhawan will make the cut due to the sheer weight of his Vijay Hazare Trophy performance of nearly 500 runs and 17 wickets.
But at nearly 33 years old and bowling at an early-mid 120kph, it’s a big question whether Rishi will be a serious contender for the 2023 World Cup.
Prithvi Shaw returns to India A and Venkatesh Iyer is said to be the all-rounder.
It will be interesting to see if any of the left arm bowling options like Mohsin Khan, Yash Dayal or T Natarajan gets a wink in the squad.
Among the spinners will be Rahul Chahar, R Sai Kishore, Krishnappa Gowtham, Kumar kartikeya in battle.