Irfan axed as Baroda captain
Irfan Pathan has been stripped of the Baroda captaincy following the team's lackluster showing in the first two rounds of the Ranji Trophy, from which they have a solitary point. Deepak Hooda, the allrounder, has been promoted to lead Baroda, who are currently languishing at the bottom of Group C.
Irfan, who has picked up just two wickets in the tournament so far, has also been dropped from the 15-man squad for their third game, against Tripura. Irfan told media outlets he was unsure of the reasons for his exclusion. "I am as fit as ever and there is no issue with my performances and commitment to serve Team Baroda," he told Ahmedabad Times. "I felt very proud when I was made the captain and was told that I would be the perfect mentor to the youngsters. I have worked hard with the boys for the last couple of months and they are very happy with whatever we have been doing. I really don't know what has gone wrong after just two games. Had I been told that my services won't be required before the domestic season started, I would have happily stepped aside. Although I love Baroda and take a lot of pride in representing the team, I might have gone and played for another team."
Snehal Parikh, the Baroda Cricket Association secretary, said the captaincy switch was a collective decision taken by the selectors. "The selectors have categorically said that this team is only for one game," he told ESPNcricinfo. "They have dropped around four-five players."
Among those dropped is Pinal Shah, the experienced wicketkeeper. Yusuf Pathan will miss the game due to an illness. Kedar Devdhar has been named vice-captain.
Rahane, Shardul boost for Mumbai
Mumbai will be strengthened by the inclusion of Ajinkya Rahane and Shardul Thakur, who were on national duty during the ODI series against New Zealand, for their game against Odisha in Bhubaneshwar. Seamer Tushar Deshpande, who picked up 21 wickets last season, has been added to the 16-member squad in place of Minad Manjrekar.
Rahane notched up fifty-plus scores in each of his last four ODI innings against Australia, while Thakur has played A-team cricket over the last month.
Rahane's inclusion will be a boost to the batting department in the absence of Shreyas Iyer, who has been called up to the national side for the T20I series against New Zealand. Iyer has been in tremendous form recently, and smashed a 57 and 138 in Mumbai's last game against Tamil Nadu.
Mumbai's form, however, has been patchy. While they secured the first-innings lead against Madhya Pradesh in the opening game, they dropped points against Tamil Nadu at home. With four points from two games, they are currently fourth in the Group C standings.