Ranji Trophy 2016-17 November 10, 2016

Rahul, Bhuvneshwar to play in next round of Ranji matches

KL Rahul injured his hamstring during the Kanpur Test against New Zealand © BCCI

India opener KL Rahul and seamer Bhuvneshwar Kumar will play the next round of Ranji Trophy matches beginning on November 13, after missing the major part of the New Zealand series with injuries.

Bhuvneshwar confirmed to ESPNcricinfo that he would turn out for Uttar Pradesh against Mumbai in Mysore, and Karnataka coach J Arun Kumar said Rahul would join the team on November 10 ahead of their Group B clash against Rajasthan in Vizianagaram. With the tournament nearing its home stretch, both teams, especially Uttar Pradesh who are third from the bottom in Group A, will welcome the return of key players.

Shikhar Dhawan is likely to play the round beginning on November 21, when Delhi play Rajasthan in Wayanad. He made 1 and 17 in the only Test he played against New Zealand, in Kolkata, before sustaining a fracture in his left thumb after being struck twice by Trent Boult on the third day. He was subsequently ruled out of the third Test in Indore and the limited-overs contests.

Rahul and Bhuvneshwar haven't played competitive cricket for over a month, and will therefore be keen to prove their match fitness in the Ranji Trophy, in line with India coach Anil Kumble's policy. Good performances there could put them in line for selection in India's side for the last three Tests against England.

Rahul's most recent game was the first Test against New Zealand in Kanpur, where he injured his hamstring while running between the wickets. He missed the remaining two Tests and the subsequent five-match ODI series. He has since undergone rehabilitation before being picked for the game against Mumbai.

Rahul had been in fine form prior to his injury, scoring a 158 in Jamaica and a half-century in St Lucia, before smashing an unbeaten 51-ball 110 in the first T20I against West Indies in Florida. He also had a productive tour of Zimbabwe in June, when he made his ODI debut and scored 196 runs in three matches, including a century.

Bhuvneshwar picked up a back strain in the second Test, in Kolkata, where his five-for in the first innings gave India a substantial lead and set up a 178-run win. It was his second five-wicket haul in three matches - the first one came against West Indies in St Lucia, which was his first Test in over 19 months.

Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun

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