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Manish Pandey handed Karnataka captaincy across formats

Manish Pandey built an important stand with Dinesh Karthik AFP

Left out of India's limited-overs squad for the series in Australia and New Zealand, Manish Pandey has been handed the Karnataka captaincy across formats.

ESPNcricinfo understands that Pandey's availability for the next two months was central to the KSCA's decision of a leadership change, one "taken with outgoing captain R Vinay Kumar's consent."

Pandey had already taken over the limited-overs captaincy from Vinay halfway through their Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign.

"Looking at the future, we wanted to start grooming another captain and Manish was the best choice," KSCA secretary R Sudhakar Rao said. "We consulted Vinay as well and given his commitment to the sport and the the team, he was willing to play under anyone. We have a good leadership group and it augers well for the team."

Vinay, a domestic veteran with over 400 first-class wickets, took over full-time captaincy from Robin Uthappa during the 2012-13 season. He went on to lead Karnataka to back-to-back Ranji Trophy titles for the next two seasons, apart from sweeping the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Irani Cup.

Vinay will continue playing all formats, although his workload is set to be monitored. He missed the previous game against Railways because of a sore knee, which meant he had to pull out late.

Vinay confirmed being consulted about the captaincy change. "I was part of this selection process," Vinay told Times of India. "I knew I had to gradually hand over my captaincy to someone suitable. Manish is a good friend and I will keep giving my inputs. He is a wonderful guy and will lead the team very well."

Mumbai receive Thakur, Deshpande boost

Mumbai have received a shot in the arm ahead of their crucial Ranji Trophy clash against defending champions Vidarbha in Nagpur, with quicks Shardul Thakur and Tushar Deshpande returning to the fold. Both were nursing hamstring injuries, Thakur having broken down on Test debut against West Indies and Despande in the first innings of the Gujarat clash last month. While Thakur has not played a single match this season, Deshpande missed the previous three against Maharashtra, Baroda and Saurashtra.

With Mumbai requiring nothing less than an outright win to stay in contention for the knockouts - although other results would be just as important - 20 wickets will be paramount, something they have managed only managed once in six matches this season. Still, the selectors erred on the side of caution in the case of captain Dhawal Kulkarni, who has been left out despite having made a full recovery from the ankle injury he had sustained in the match against Gujarat. The rationale behind Dhawal's exclusion, according to chief selector Ajit Agarkar, was that it would have been a "risk" to field three bowlers returning from injury in the XI.

"It would be tough to risk three bowlers coming back from injury in the XI, so unfortunately Dhawal misses out this match," Agarkar told Sportstar on Thursday. Curiously, Dhawal was picked in the squad for Mumbai's previous match against Saurashtra, but he pulled out two days prior to the encounter, citing match-fitness as a concern.

Puducherry shift home to Anatpur

Puducherry's home match against Manipur on December 30 has been shifted to a neutral venue in Anatpur. The BCCI took the decision following the abandonment of the Puducherry-Uttarakhand fixture at the CAP Siechem Ground in Puducherry due to the inconsistent nature of the pitches there. The Puducherry-Uttarakhand encounter was first affected by rain, with play getting underway only on day three, but 8.2 overs into Uttarakhand 's innings, the umpires took the players off the field after the openers Vineet Saxena and Karn Veer Kaushal suffered blows to the body.

ALSO READ: Puducherry-Uttarakhand match called off after restart

The original pitch was declared unfit for play and the match restarted on the adjacent surface on day four, this time with Puducherry batting, but fifteen overs into the innings, the match was called off due to the variable bounce on offer. It remains to be seen whether Puducherry's final match against Nagaland on January 7 is also played at Anantpur. "As of now, the next match will be played in Anantpur. We will take a call about the last game later," BCCI's GM, Cricket Operations Saba Karim told Sportstar.

With additional inputs from Shashank Kishore