Offspinner Harbhajan Singh and batsman Ajinkya Rahane, who have been part of India's squad for all three Tests against England, will join their respective Ranji Trophy teams for the next group game that begins on Saturday. The third Test of the four-match India-England series is currently underway in Kolkata, but neither player is part of the Indian XI.
This decision is in line with the policy adopted by the India team management over the past four seasons, by which as many players as possible are released from the national squad for Ranji games during home series'. This is done with a view to help the reserves remain match-fit.
Harbhajan and Rahane will fly from Kolkata to Mumbai on Thursday, to join Punjab and Mumbai - these teams will play each other at the Wankhede Stadium in the next round of Ranji games. The pair, along with most of the other India regulars, featured in the season-opening round of the Ranji Trophy matches from November 2. While Harbhajan could make little impact with the ball as the Punjab captain against Hyderabad, Rahane scored 129 and 84 for Mumbai against Railways.
The players' availability will be a major boost for both teams, in particular Mumbai; Punjab, with young batsman Mandeep Singh at the helm, have already assured themselves of a place in the knockouts with four victories in five matches, but Mumbai are yet to win this season.
Harbhajan, having recovered from a viral infection, featured in India's humiliating ten-wicket defeat against England at the Wankhede Stadium. Rahane is yet to play in the Test series. The final game of the four-Test series will begin in Nagpur on December 13.