Kaif to lead depleted UP
Mohammad Kaif will lead a new-look Uttar Pradesh team in the Ranji Trophy and Suresh Raina will be the vice-captain.
UP go into the season without left-arm seamer Shalabh Srivastava, Ali Murtaza and Avinash Yadav, who have all joined the Indian Cricket League (ICL). Srivastava has been a consistent performer for UP over the last few years. Moreover, the experienced trio of Rizwan Shamshad, Ashish Winston Zaidi and Gyanendra Pandey retired from first-class season last season. Pandey will coach the side this season, and Zaidi will be the team manager.
Left-hand batsman Shivakant Shukla, left-arm spinner Praveen Gupta, and wicketkeeper Amir Khan, who were all tipped to join Railways this season, have chosen to stay behind and are all selected.
Kaif and Raina, the two most important batsmen in the team, will look for support from youngsters Shukla, Ravikant Shukla, who captained India at the Under-19 World Cup, and Tanmay Srivastava, another India U-19 player.
The bowling in the absence of RP Singh and Praveen Kumar, both representing India, and Srivastava, is without a spearhead. For Piyush Chawla, the first few matches will be crucial as he would look to draw his way back to the Indian team.
Squad: Mohammad Kaif (capt), Shivakant Shukla, Ravikant Shukla, Tanmay Srivastava, Piyush Chawla, Amir Khan (wk), Rohit Prakash, Rahat Ilahi, Ratnesh Mishra, Praveen Gupta, Suraj Pratap Singh, Sudeep Tyagi, Tahir Abbas
Reserves: Parvindar Singh, Anshul Kapoor, Raj Singh and Abhishek Tiwari