J&K allrounder Rasool in India A squad
Parvez Rasool, the Jammu and Kashmir allrounder, has been included in the 14-member India A squad to play the warm-up one-day match against England on January 6 in Delhi.
Another notable inclusion in the squad is fast bowler Sreesanth, who returned to competitive cricket last month after nearly a year out with injury. The side will be led by Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund, and does not have any players from the teams that qualified for the Ranji quarter-finals, which start this weekend.
Rasool has been rewarded for a strong showing with both bat and ball in J&K's otherwise disappointing run in this year's Ranji Trophy. He finished on top of both batting and bowling charts for the team with 594 runs, including two centuries, and 33 wickets.
He thanked former left-arm spinner Bishan Bedi, who is J&K's coach, for playing a big role in his development. "Bedi sir has a huge role in my success," Rasool told PTI. "Initially, I was a batsman who could bowl part-time off-breaks but it was at his [Bedi] insistence that I began to concentrate more on developing my bowling skills.
"Bedi made us realise that we are here to compete and not just to participate. Earlier, J&K players used to play for the heck of it but now we believe in ourselves. We believe that we have the talent to be among the best."
Rasool has become the first cricketer from the Jammu and Kashmir team to be selected in an Indian team to play an international side and the fourth - behind Abid Nabi, Surendra Singh and Abdul Qayoom - to be picked in a national-level squad.
Qayoom was the first J&K cricketer to play the Wills Trophy (the Irani Trophy of the ODIs) for the Wills XI in December 1990 and also played in the Deodhar Trophy in 1996-97. Surendra represented North Zone in the 2000-01 Duleep Trophy and played for India B in the 2001-02 NKP Salve Challenger Trophy.
Rasool was detained for questioning three years ago in Bangalore in connection with a suspected presence of explosives at the Chinnaswamy stadium ahead of a Champions League match. He was given a clean chit a few days later.
Other Ranji performers who were called up include Ishwar Pandey, the Madhya Pradesh seamer, who is the top-wicket taker in the tournament this season. Haryana seamer Mohit Sharma, who is fourth on the wicket-takers list, has also been included.
India A squad: Abhinav Mukund (capt), M Vijay, Robin Bist, Kedar Jadhav, Ashok Menaria, Rohit Motwani (wk), Jalaj Saxena, Akshay Darekar, Ishwar Pandey, Sreesanth, Rishi Dhawan, Paras Dogra, Mohit Sharma, Parvez Rasool