Mumbai: Cheteshwar Pujara has been chosen to lead Rest of India in the Irani Trophy, the fixture that begins India's domestic first-class season, against Rajasthan in 11 days time in Bangalore.
Pujara, 24, made a strong return to the Indian Test team recently after a long absence due to injury, scoring 159, 9 and 48 against New Zealand. He captained India A in the West Indies earlier this year. Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav and Ishant Sharma have also been selected, after being left out of the Indian squad for the ICC World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka, while Yusuf Pathan, the Baroda allrounder, gets another chance to stake his claim.
Murali Vijay, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane were the three openers chosen. Rahane toured Australia and Sri Lanka in 2012, but was overlooked for India’s Twenty20 squad despite having a strong IPL season. Dinesh Karthik and Wriddhiman Saha are the wicketkeepers named. Badrinath was recalled to India’s Test squad to face New Zealand but did not get a chance to play.
Karnataka allrounder Stuart Binny, son of former India international Roger, was selected on the basis of a strong previous Ranji Trophy season. Binny, 28, was the fifth-highest run-getter with 742 at 67.45 and also took 20 wickets at 20.10 as Karnataka reached the Ranji Trophy semi-finals last season. His team-mate Abhimanyu Mithun, who has played four Tests for India, was also picked in the ROI squad.
Harmeet Singh, the left-arm spinner from Mumbai who impressed in the Under-19 World Cup, and Delhi Ranji Trophy fast bowler Parwinder Awana, who started for Kings XI Punjab in IPL 5, were also named.
The BCCI also announced that the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy would feature Bengal, India A and India B and will be played in Rajkot from September 29 - October 2. Previously the tournament featured India Red, Green and Blue but it has been altered to accommodate the winners of the domestic 50-over competition. Bengal are the current 50-over champions.
Pujara will captain India B in the tournament and India A will be led by Badrinath.
Rest of India: Cheteshwar Pujara (capt), Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane, S Badrinathan, Shikhar Dhawan, Dinesh Karthik, Wriddhiman Saha, Yusuf Pathan, Pragyan Ojha, Parwinder Awana, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Stuart Binny, Abhimanyu Mithun, Harmeet Singh.
India A: S Badrinath (capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Parvinder Awana, Abhimanyu Mithun, Pragyan Ojha, Iqbal Abdulla, Harshal Patel, Udit Birla.
India B: Cheteshwar Pujara (capt), M Vijay, S Aniruddha, Kedar Jadhav, Robin Bist, Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, Baba Aparajith, Praveen Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Munaf Patel, Harmeet Singh, Rohit Motwani, Sandeep Sharma.