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Delhi dismiss claims of nepotism over Sarthak Ranjan selection

A view of the RP Mehra Block at the Feroz Shah Kotla Getty Images

Delhi have defended the selection of batsman Sarthak Ranjan in their squad for the Syed Mushtaq Ali inter-state T20 competition despite the batsman not having played any competitive cricket this season. Ranjan, 21, was picked ahead of players like Unmukt Chand and Hiten Dalal, who had scored runs for the Under-23 team.

"The selection committee has been entrusted with the job and we believe they have done their duty without any pressure. The boy in question (Ranjan), I feel, is attracting some attention because of who his father is," Justice Vikramjit Sen, the court-appointed administrator of DDCA, told PTI. "But I have no information that selectors were under any kind of pressure."

Ranjan's parents are prominent politicians in Bihar. His father, Rajesh Ranjan - popularly known as Pappu Yadav - is a member of parliament from Madhepura, while his mother Ranjeet Ranjan is a lawmaker from Supaul.

Ranjan made his T20 debut in 2016, making 10 runs in three games, and played his only List A match last year against Himachal Pradesh, scoring 37. Ranjan was also a part of the Delhi Under-23 squad, but he didn't play a single game. Ahead of Delhi's opening fixture against Punjab on Tuesday, chairman of selectors Atul Wassan defended Ranjan's selection.

"I didn't even know who his father was till today," Wassan told ESPNcricinfo. "We picked him last year, he played one [List A] game and got 37. He played one [three] T20 games where he batted No. 5. He is an opener. This year he would have played at the start of the season, but he had issues. Like players get physically injured, he was mentally not well. He was with the Under-23 squad and practised with the team. But we didn't play him because he missed out the initial part of the season and the guys in the side were playing exceptionally well."

Wassan said the selection committee, which also included Hari Gidwani and Robin Singh Jr., believed in giving players a fair run. "Once we have taken a call on somebody, we should give him enough chance to succeed or to fail also," he said. "Nobody knew Kunal Chandela when we picked him. What yardsticks people go by, I don't understand. But now that we have backed the players, we should at least play Ranjan. It's unfair for other players to leapfrog him. First, he should get a chance."

When asked about Dalal not being picked, Wassan said: "Hiten Dalal is back in the reckoning and he's got runs. He will be next. If Dalal got into the team this year and then actually plays one game and doesn't play another game, do we discard him next season if someone else does well? Or, should Dalal be first in line to get a chance? What's the point of having me as a chairman of selectors and continuing with the system of introducing players and throwing them? Each year 30-40 cricketers would play. Do we want that system back in Delhi cricket?"