Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina will captain the India Red, Blue and Green teams respectively in the upcoming Duleep Trophy, which will be played for the first time with a pink ball, and under lights. The tournament will be held between August 23 and September 14 in Greater Noida, the BCCI announced on Thursday.
The league stage will be played in a round-robin format, with each game lasting four days and beginning at 2pm IST. The final will be played from September 10 and will be a five-day match. The tournament was shelved last season due to a busy international calendar.
The Red Team, led by Yuvraj, also includes Punjab allrounder Gurkeerat Singh, Rajasthan fast bowler Nathu Singh and M Ashwin, who had an impressive debut IPL season this year. Shardul Thakur, Cheteshwar Pujara and M Vijay, who are with the Test squad in the West Indies, have been named in the Blue and Green teams.
However, with the Test series set to end on August 22, it is likely that they could be unavailable for the first round. Raina's selection as captain for India Green also means that is set to miss the two-match T20 series against West Indies in Florida, which will be played on August 27 and 28. Jasprit Bumrah and Ambati Rayudu, who were part of the T20I squad in Zimbabwe, are also likely to miss out, after being named to play for India Green.
A BCCI source didn't rule out the possibility of the likes of Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane and R Ashwin participating towards the later stages of the tournament, after they're back from the tour of West Indies and USA.
There was speculation about the format and the venues in the lead-up to the tournament, apart from uncertainty whether the board would follow the fixtures committee's recommendation to play the tournament with a pink ball under lights.
With the T20 series in the USA confirmed, and India's A team on tour in Australia, the number of teams was finally kept to three, with the Greater Noida international stadium chosen as a venue despite earlier suggestions of multiple venues.
The tournament is also important from the point of view of trying out the pink ball in Indian conditions. During the BCCI's annual conclave in Dharamsala in June, board president Anurag Thakur had said that the feedback of players from the tournament would be important to India's prospects of hosting a day-night Test.
Teams: India Red: Abhinav Mukund, KS Bharat, Sudip Chatterjee, Gurkeerat Singh, Yuvraj Singh (capt), Ankush Bains (wk), Arun Karthik, Akshay Wakhare, Kuldeep Yadav, Nathu Singh, Anureet Singh, Ishwar Pandey, Nitish Rana, M Ashwin, Abhimanyu Mithun.
India Blue: Gautam Gambhir (capt), Mayank Agarwal, Sheldon Jackson Baba Aparajith, Siddhesh Lad, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Parvez Rasool, K Monish, Krishna Das, Suryakumar Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Pankaj Singh, Shardul Thakur, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari
India Green: Robin Uthappa, Jalaj Saxena, Ambati Rayudu, Ian Dev Singh, Rohan Prem, Suresh Raina (capt), Parthiv Patel (wk), Harbhajan Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Ashok Dinda, Sandeep Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot, Rajat Paliwal, Jasprit Bumrah, M Vijay