Bangalore: Virender Sehwag has been chosen to lead a 14-member Rest of India (ROI) in the five-day Irani Trophy match against current Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai from February 6. Suresh Raina, Pragyhan Ojha and Sreesanth have been included in a squad largely made up of India A regulars, and also featuring the uncapped Ambati Rayudu.
Sehwag, Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay were the three openers chosen though it remains to be seen where Sehwag, recently axed from India's ODI team and struggling to keep his place in Tests, will bat against Mumbai.
Sreesanth's selection is another big step forward for the India pacer who this domestic season made a return to competitive season and played for India A against England recently. Harbhajan will face competition for a place in the playing XI from Ojha, currently India's premier Test spinner.
The ROI squad includes Madhya Pradesh medium-pacer Ishwar Pandey who was the leading wicket-taker in this season's Ranji Trophy with 48 in eight matches. His MP team-mate Jalaj Saxena has also found a place after representing India A in a 50-over game against an England XI this month. Wriddhiman Saha has been named the wicketkeeper.
Shami Ahmed, the Bengal seamer who made his ODI debut recently, has been named in the ROI squad as well as the Board President's XI to play the touring Australians in a two-day match in Chennai from February 12. Leading the Board President's XI is Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund. Delhi batsman Shikhar Dhawan, who is one of three openers - Sehwag and Murali Vijay being the others - in the ROI squad, has been named captain of India A in the three-day game against the Australians also in Chennai from February 16.
The India A squad features three batsmen who have played for India recently - Rohit Sharma, Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary - and consists of successful Ranji Trophy performers. Punjab opener Jiwanjot Singh has been rewarded for an outstanding maiden Ranji Trophy season - 995 runs in ten matches - with a berth as were Dhawal Kulkarni and Rakesh Dhruv.
Rest of India: Virender Sehwag (capt), Shikhar Dhawan, Murali Vijay, Manoj Tiwary, Suresh Raina, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Sreesanth, Pragyan Ojha, Ishwar Pandey, Abhimanyu Mithun, Ambati Rayudu, Shami Ahmed, Jalaj Saxena
Board Preisident's XI: Abhinav Mukund (capt), Robin Uthappa, Ambati Rayudu, Mandeep Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Parthiv Patel (wk), Stuart Binny, Sarabjit Ladda, Parvez Rassol, Shami Ahmed, Parvinder Awana, Kamlesh Makwana
India A: Shikhar Dhawan (capt), Jiwanjyot Singh, Rohit Sharma, Manoj Tiwary Ajinkya Rahane, CM Gautam (wk), Rakesh Dhruv, Jalaj Saxena, Manpreet Gony, Vinay Kumar, Dhawal Kulkarni, Ashok Menaria