Mumbai v Rest of India, Irani Cup, Mumbai

Eye on Test spots in Irani tie

The Preview by Siddhartha Talya at the Wankhede Stadium

February 5, 2013

Comments: 22 | Text size: A | A

Match facts

February 6-10, 2013
Start time 9.30 (0400 GMT)


Dhawal Kulkarni finished with 5 for 148, Mumbai v Rest of India, Irani Cup, Jaipur, 2nd day, October 2, 2010
Dhawal Kulkarni's nine-wicket haul in the Ranji Trophy final should have caught the selectors' attention © ESPNcricinfo Ltd
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The Irani Cup gets some breathing space at last. Until last year, it had been the inaugural game of India's domestic season but was away from the limelight due to the cricketing events it clashed with, like the Champions League in 2010-11 and the World Twenty20 last year. The decision to reschedule the match at the end of the first-class season, retain the big names and have the Ranji Trophy champions take on Rest of India soon after the final has been widely welcomed.

The build-up to the game on February 6 has gone some way towards justifying the switch, with both Mumbai and Rest of India boasting most of their best players, the newer ones competing for spots in the India-Australia Tests to follow, and generating considerable interest in a contest that in recent years had been reduced to a sideshow.

Rest of India have won the Irani Cup seven times in a row, Mumbai last won in 1997-98. The hosts have lost Zaheer Khan and captain Ajit Agarkar to injuries, but still retain a strong line-up. Sachin Tendulkar is playing the Irani Cup for the first time since 2003-04 and batted a good 45 minutes at the nets on the eve of the match. Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma are striving for a Test place, Dhawal Kulkarni is high on confidence after his match-winning performance in the Ranji Trophy final, Abhishek Nayar will lead the side after a successful all-round Ranji season, and Wasim Jaffer has shown admirable resolve on the field amid adversity off it - his father, who was in hospital for half the season, died days after Jaffer was named Man of the Match in the Ranji final.

Despite the absence of Gautam Gambhir, Cheteshwar Pujara, R Ashwin, Virat Kohli, and MS Dhoni - three of those five players were named in the squads for the BCCI Corporate Trophy - Rest of India are well-staffed. Led by Virender Sehwag, who is looking to regain form after being dropped from the England ODIs, Rest of India bat deep, have some experienced hands and include some promising young players who've already made an impression on the international circuit, chiefly the Bengal seamer Shami Ahmed.

The game is the first of three ahead of the Australia series where players can stake their claim for a place in the national side; the competition in the batting is more intense given the limited spots available but there is enough uncertainty in the bowling to keep many interested. It's not known if Zaheer will be fit for the Australia series, Umesh Yadav is recovering from a lower-back stress injury, and only Ishant Sharma seems likely to keep his place. Shami, Kulkarni, Ishwar Pandey and Abhimanyu Mithun will be eyeing a chance; Sreesanth, too, has returned from a long lay-off. As for spin, even though Ashwin and Pragyan Ojha are favourites to start in the Test series, it won't be a surprise if Harbhajan Singh's past record against Australia plays on the selectors' minds when they sit down to pick the squad.

In the spotlight

Is time running out for Virender Sehwag? After his century against England in Ahmedabad, he hasn't been among the runs and lost his place in the ODI side. The likes of Shikhar Dhawan and M Vijay may not really be breathing down his neck to take on Australia but there is an increasing demand in India to frame a long-term strategy for the side with an eye on the team's overseas Test assignments that start with the tour of South Africa later in the year. Another run of failures is something Sehwag can ill-afford.

Dhawal Kulkarni was picked for the India squad for the Tests in New Zealand at the age of the 20 in 2008-09, but is yet to get an India cap. Four years on, he's finished a Ranji season on a high, taking 14 wickets in his previous two first-class games including nine in the final. Consistency in pace is what he had been striving for, said Kulkarni, and he even won plaudits from Sachin Tendulkar who'd said his performance in the second innings in the Ranji final was one of the better spells of fast bowling he'd seen in first-class cricket in recent times. Given the apparent vacuum in India's Test fast-bowling department, Kulkarni has a strong incentive to perform well in the Irani Cup.

Pitch and conditions

The track for the Irani Cup will be different from the one used in the Ranji Trophy final that finished in three days. Conditions were a little overcast on Tuesday morning and Harbhajan, who spoke to reporters at the end of the practice session, expected the pitch to help the seamers on the first couple of days. "It's a challenging wicket. It's not the kind of wicket where a batsman once set can never get out. To play cricket, this is the best wicket in India."

Quotes

"It's an important game. If you look at the last series, we didn't play well against England in Test matches. You have got the best team from Mumbai and all the players in Rest of India are trying to make a comeback."
Suresh Raina is among those players

"The switch to the end of the season is good because the team that wins the Ranji Trophy is in a good flow and everyone at that time has had enough practice. Sometimes what happens is at the start of the season, a lot of guys would not have had practice due to the off season and monsoons."
Abhishek Nayar, leading the Mumbai senior team in first-class cricket for the first time

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by realfan on (February 6, 2013, 8:26 GMT)

and there goes another chance for 1 talented guy to enter indian test squad... ya i mean it wit vijay's century once in blue moon he will be fancied by selectors.... unfortunate....

Posted by realfan on (February 6, 2013, 7:52 GMT)

i think selectors should drop or rest any one opener and go with WASIM JAFFER... he is experienced, techincally correct , is in good form, and more over no T20 rush.... i think he will be fit for another 5 years....by that time they can groom another pair of openers......

Posted by realfan on (February 6, 2013, 7:48 GMT)

the fact that gambir is not in ROI and sehwag is not playing means is it that they are not being tested to hold their place in test for aunstralia????? are they the permanent openers for the australia series????

and what is M Vijay doing in the squad????? and where is abhinav mukundh, he is sort of emerged from no where in england series 2 years back and vanished to somewhere??????? and jadeja???? is he also not being tested?????

and are they planning to give harbajan a chance???? and is ashwin permanent member of indian test squad???? why is he not being tested?????

why not give some practice to pujara instead of good for nothing murali vijay or shikar dhavan???????

rediculous selection..... that why every body feels indian test cricket has no future.....

Posted by binu.emiliya on (February 6, 2013, 7:46 GMT)

Sehwag got a century in the first test.What Goutham Gambeer got in the four test?He can be never out of form keep him in the team and replace GG with Dhawan/Vijay and the team should be like this Sehwag,Vijay/Dhwavan,Pujara,SRT,Kohli,Dhoni,R Jadeja,B Kumar,Aswin,ohja,Ishant this team is having a strong lower order atleast in India

Posted by CricFanKrish on (February 5, 2013, 23:05 GMT)

Good luck to all the players! May the best players shine and force the selectors to take notice of them.

Posted by ROXSPORT on (February 5, 2013, 20:10 GMT)

Totally agree with Nampally. Harbhajan has been given too many chances. Time to try J Saxena. Rahane has not taken his chances. May be time to look at W Jaffer anew, as a stop gap measure.

Posted by TM on (February 5, 2013, 19:42 GMT)

india test team should be : jiwanjot singh rahane pujara kohli rohit dhoni jadeja/tiwary r ashwin bhuvuneshwar kumar yadav/ishant ojha

Posted by TM on (February 5, 2013, 19:39 GMT)

what happened to harmeet singh the spinner ???

Posted by Nampally on (February 5, 2013, 19:28 GMT)

Why include Harbhajan (without any present record) in the squad let alone in XI? Wasim Jaffer with the best Ranji record cannot find a spot - why Harbhajan? The Selectors are like blind people searching for a black cat in a dark room, which is not there! Such unplanned selection has made India look like "Minnows". If Sehwag is going to be the Indian Captain in the Tests, by all means bring him in or groom an alternate for Test Captaincy. Dhoni must be replaced as Test Captain. Do not waste chances to try the "potential" candidates for specific positions.In the ROI, the potential Test match candidates are Raina, Tiwary & Dhawan (batsmen) + Ishwar Pandey(seamer)+ J.Saxena for off spinner+Saha (WK).There is a spot open for an opening bat & one for middle order batsman. Ashwin's indiffernt bowling justifies a search for an alternate off spinner-J.Saxena, Rasool & Joshi are 3 candidates. I.Pandey being the highest wkt. taker in Ranji needs to be explored amongst the seamers. Good Luck Guys!

Posted by MunafAhmed811 on (February 5, 2013, 18:46 GMT)

Rayudu , Tiwary, Abhishek Nayyar need to be given a fair run now or else real talent will be wasted when they are at their peak

Posted by BetterReading on (February 5, 2013, 17:55 GMT)

Jaffer and Tiwary should be included in the test series against Aussies.

Posted by Paras.Rishi on (February 5, 2013, 17:33 GMT)

Out-of-form Sehwag is a myth, even his 40-50s are of a great value to the team. Also, he always gets at least one big hundred (200+ scores in just 2-3 sessions) in every home series!

Posted by Paras.Rishi on (February 5, 2013, 17:30 GMT)

I still feel in-form Bhajji will prove much more lethal against Aussies than Ashwin who has bowled really bad lengths and lacks patience of a quality Test match spin bowler.

Posted by suryasxn on (February 5, 2013, 17:26 GMT)

Wasim Jaffer is undoubtedly best Indian opener available why not give him a chance in Test squard he is way better than aging Tendulkar or out of Gambhir or any other young opener available .

Posted by suryasxn on (February 5, 2013, 17:21 GMT)

ROI XI will only have players looking to make comeback Shewag ,Mithun, VIJAY ,Raina ,rayedu, saha, Harbhajan Singh, PP Ojha , Shami Ahmed, S Sreesanth, Jalaj S Saxena,

while Tiwari or Dhawan had to wait till Shewag's retirement

Posted by crkt4evr on (February 5, 2013, 17:06 GMT)

ROI----squad has 6 batsmen, 1wkt kepper,3 spinners & 4 pacers young saxena wil surely sit out despite good performances vijay / rayudu (vijay is more certain to loose ) mithun,pandey & sreesanth wil fight fr 2 spots MUMBAI---intersting role for nayar wil b nice to see Sachin & Jaffer bat... Rahane & Sharma r figthing fr test spot.., in bowling lots wil depend on Kulkarni,Aditya Tare(wk)...4 out of these( Kaustubh Pawar, Hiken Shah, Ankeet Chavan, Javed Khan, Shardul Thakur, Vishal Dabholka . Suryakumar Yadav)

wil surely catch this match on tv/cricinfo fr sure

Posted by QingdaoXI on (February 5, 2013, 16:09 GMT)

So Bad now Mumbai will be missing there 3 front line bolwers with the international experience, Agarkar Right arm fast medium, Zaheer Left arm fast medium and Ramesh Powar Right arm off-break, lot of bowling variety will be not there but there is good chance to youngsters who i will bowl aroung Dhawal and Ankit.

Posted by Batmanindallas on (February 5, 2013, 15:16 GMT)

Jaffer has performed consistently and a perfect person to be in the tests. I think Indian selectors should look at him

Posted by calvinn on (February 5, 2013, 15:03 GMT)

So much at stake ... Dhawan, Vijay - Opening spot ... Dark Horse - Jaffer Rahane, Tiwary, Raina & Rohit - Middle Order ... Dark Horse - Nayar Ojha and Even Saxena will be better than Harbhajan who talks a lot and does little Sreesanth will be impressive though Pandey will be amongst wickets ...

Posted by gharat_swap12 on (February 5, 2013, 14:56 GMT)

Play mumbai side with Ajit and Zak Against Aussies Indi will win

Posted by sunil16feb on (February 5, 2013, 14:30 GMT)

Wasim jaffer-- No 1 run scorer Indian domestic cricket...His Lazy elegance and silken touch still continues...His batting skills can be compared only with G r vishwanath and VVs laxman... But unfortunately not lucky as them.. thrown out of Test matches , the reason definitely not for cricketing reasons.. If could haven given chances like Gahmbir and others ...still we could haven seen him playing test cricket.... wishing Him best luck for upcoming Irani trophy 2013...

Posted by ROXSPORT on (February 5, 2013, 13:44 GMT)

Dhawal Kulkarni is pathetic. One of those trundlers who just bowl on a line & length. No pace at all (125 - 130 kph). No swing. He is just not cut out for international level, just like Abhimanyu Mithun. Shami Ahmed & Bhuvneshwar Kumar have done well & should be persisted with & encouraged.

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