Virender Sehwag will make a comeback from his shoulder injury when he captains Rest of India against Mumbai in the Irani Cup in Nagpur, starting October 1. Sehwag had missed the ICC World Twenty20 as well as the subsequent tours of West Indies and Sri Lanka, and has undergone a surgery since. The Irani Cup also gives Sreesanth an opportunity to press his way back into national reckoning. He last played for India in April 2008, and has since been out because of injury and form.
Zaheer Khan's absence from the Irani Cup and the NKP Salve Challenger Series, which follows immediately at the same venue, means he will take more time to recover from his injured shoulder. Cheteshwar Pujara, prolific scorer in domestic cricket, also misses out because of a knee injury. VVS Laxman has been rested; he's currently playing for Lancashire in the English domestic season which ends on September 26 and will represent Deccan Chargers in the Champions League Twenty20, starting October 8.
The BCCI had sent the selectors a list of 26 players participating in the Champions LeagueTwenty20, but they have picked Sehwag (Delhi Daredevils), Virat Kohli (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and Pragyan Ojha (Deccan Chargers) for the Irani Cup. They felt they needed to keep an eye on the form and fitness of these three.
Wriddhiman Saha, the Bengal wicketkeeper, has been chosen ahead of Parthiv Patel with Punjab's Uday Kaul stepping in as the reserve keeper. Irfan Pathan and Munaf Patel, who have run out of favour for the ODI team, also get a chance to make a mark.
Kaul (547 runs), Kedar Jadhav (651 runs for Maharashtra) and Abhinav Mukund (856 runs for Tamil Nadu) find themselves as a part of the squad on the back of a good Ranji season. But a notable exclusion is Mohammad Kaif, who was Rest of India's captain two years ago and led Uttar Pradesh in the finals of the Ranji Trophy in the previous two years. In those seasons he scored 687 runs at 57.25 and 529 runs at 48.09 respectively.
Kaif, who is on list of BCCI's contracted players, also finds himself out of the Challenger squads, which traditionally comprise the best 42 ODI players in the country, but are already under-strength this time round because of non-availability of some who will be playing Champions League Twenty20. In addition, Aakash Chopra loses out to M Vijay and Mukund on the openers' front.
Yuvraj Singh has been named captain of the India Red team for the Challenger Trophy, Suresh Raina will lead India Green and MS Dhoni heads India Blue.
Rest of India (for Irani Cup): Virender Sehwag (capt.), M Vijay, Virat Kohli, S Badrinath, Manoj Tiwary, Ravindra Jadeja, Irfan Pathan, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), S Sreesanth, Munaf Patel, Pragyan Ojha, Kedar Jadhav, Abhinav Mukund, Uday Kaul, Sudeep Tyagi.
Challenger Trophy squads
India Red: Yuvraj Singh (capt.), M Vijay, Sunny Sohal, Shikhar Dhawan, Ishank Jaggi, Ravindra Jadeja, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), R Ashwin, Sudeep Tyagi, Munaf Patel, Saurabh Tiwary, Ishant Sharma, Harshad Khadiwale.
India Green: Suresh Raina (capt.), Ajinkya Rahane, Tanmay Srivastava, Irfan Pathan, Ravi Inder Singh, S Badrinath, Chetanya Nanda, Parthiv Patel (wk), Manoj Tiwary, Shadab Jakati, L Balaji, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pankaj Singh, Uday Kaul
India Blue: MS Dhoni (capt.), Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Jaffer, Jalaj Saxena, Suresh Kumar, Kedar Jadhav, Abhishek Nayar, Yusuf Pathan, Naman Ojha, Harbhajan Singh, Siddharth Trivedi, Sreesanth, Ashok Dinda, Dhiraj Goswami