Harbhajan to lead Rest of India

Harbhajan Singh has been named captain of the Rest of India team for the Irani Cup to be played in Bangalore from February 9. Gautam Gambhir has also been included in the 15-man squad. The big name missing was that of Pragyan Ojha, who didn't get a game in South Africa and wasn't taken to New Zealand. However, he managed to play only one Ranji game during the season, which could be the reason why he wasn't picked.

Others who might consider themselves unlucky are Maharashtra batsman Harshad Khadiwale, Jharkhand's Saurabh Tiwary, Himachal Pradesh allrounder Rishi Dhawan and Railways wicketkeeper Mahesh Rawat. Khadiwale is one of the three players to score 1000 runs in the tournament, but couldn't join his two Maharashtra team-mates, Kedar Jadhav and Ankit Bawne, in the squad. Tiwary scored 854 runs, including an impressive century in Mumbai, but lost out to - among others - Natraj Behera, who scored 584 runs. Rawat accumulated 820 runs in the season, but lost to Dinesh Karthik who made 401 runs.

Punjab's Jiwanjot Singh, who had a second good season, will be Gambhir's opening partner. Jadhav, Bawne, Baba Aparajith, Karthik, Natraj Behera and Mandeep Singh were the other batsmen in the squad. Parvez Rasool was the allrounder, while most of the highest wicket-takers in the Ranji season made it to the squad.

Pankaj Singh, who earlier in the season complained about his non-selection, got another chance to impress the selectors, with Varun Aaron, Anureet Singh and Ashok Dinda as other quicks.

Rest of India will face Karnataka, who won the Ranji Trophy beating Maharashtra in the final in Hyderabad.

Squad Harbhajan Singh (capt.), Jiwanjot Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Baba Aparajith, Kedar Jadhav, Ankit Bawne, Dinesh Karthik, Amit, Mishra, Pankaj Singh, Ashok Dinda, Varun Aaron, Parvez Rasool, Anureet Singh, Natraj Behera, Mandeep Singh