Ranji Trophy 2013-14 January 3, 2014

Zaheer, Nayar return to boost Mumbai

Mumbai will be boosted by the return of Zaheer Khan and Abhishek Nayar for their Ranji Trophy quarter-final against Maharashtra at the Wankhede Stadium from January 8 to 12.

Zaheer, who led the team for the first four Group A games, was recalled to India's Test squad in South Africa and thus missed the last four group games. Nayar had been unavailable due to a left hip injury since he replaced Zaheer as captain for the game against Jharkhand.

Wasim Jaffer, who had been in charge of the team for the last three games, will hand over the captaincy to Zaheer. In the first four games of the season, Mumbai had picked up 19 points, including three wins. However, with Zaheer, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane unavailable due to national duty and Nayar and the seamer Dhawal Kulkarni injured, the defending champions were struggling to qualify for the knockouts.

Kulkarni, whose foot injury was detected hours after he was selected for India's ODI series against West Indies in November, will take at least a week to return to action. "He has started doing some fitness drills and we are hoping that he would be available for the next round," said Nitin Dalal, the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) joint secretary.

Despite Zaheer and Nayar's return, the team management still have a lot to ponder over their combination ahead of the Maharashtra derby. The batsman Siddhesh Lad, who had a slipped disc on the eve of Mumbai's crucial game against Gujarat in Valsad, is likely to be ruled out. Two other batsmen, Hiken Shah and D Subramanian, who had suffered hand injuries while fielding in Valsad, will miss the quarter-final.

"Hiken split his webbing and Subbu [Subramanian] has a fractured thumb, thus ruling them out for this round," Dalal said.

As a result, the squad for the quarter-final will see five changes from the one that travelled to Valsad. Manish Rao (who had replaced Lad), Balwinder Singh Sandhu, Shah, Subramanian and Pravin Tambe have made way for Zaheer, Nayar, Vinit Indulkar, Sarvesh Damle and Nikhil Patil (Jr).

Squad: Zaheer Khan (capt), Wasim Jaffer, Abhishek Nayar, Aditya Tare (wk), Kaustubh Pawar, Suryakumar Yadav, Vishal Dabholkar, Javed Khan, Shardul Thakur, Iqbal Abdulla, Sagar Kerkar, Vinit Indulkar, Nikhil Patil (Jr), Sarvesh Damle, Saurabh Netravalkar

Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo