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Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Kerala pick Baby over Uthappa for captaincy

Robin Uthappa participates in a fielding drill PTI

Follow all the news updates in the lead-up to the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy here

December 4

Sachin Baby, and not Robin Uthappa, will lead Kerala in the Ranji Trophy. Baby retains the captaincy, having led Kerala to the semi-finals in 2018-19. A season earlier, he had led them to their maiden quarter-final appearance.

Uthappa, who led the team during the limited-overs leg of the domestic season, will, however, still be key to the state's batting fortunes. It is believed his underwhelming returns both as captain and batsman in the white-ball season led to the KCA's decision of continuing with Baby.

Uthappa managed just 112 runs in eight innings at the 50-over Vijay Hazare Trophy. In the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20s after that, he managed 139 runs in six innings, with one half-century. Kerala failed to progress to the knockouts in either competition.

December 3

Goa rope in Smit Patel after CM Gautam's arrest

Smit Patel, the wicketkeeper-batsman, has moved to Goa as a professional after two seasons with Tripura. He replaces CM Gautam, the former Karnataka wicketkeeper, who has been stripped of his contract in the wake of his arrest in the Karnataka Premier League spot-fixing scandal.

With Parthiv Patel keeping wickets, Smit moved out of his home state Gujarat before the 2016-17 season because of lack of opportunities with the gloves. In all, Smit, an Under-19 World Cup winner in 2012, has played 45 first-class matches, scoring 2479 runs at an average of 49.66 and effecting 101 dismissals behind the stumps.

Suryakumar Yadav is the new Mumbai captain

Mumbai, Ranji Trophy champions on 41 occasions, will begin the 2019-20 season with a new captain. The Mumbai Cricket Association announced in-form top-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav as the leader of the 15-man squad. He takes over from fast bowler Dhawal Kulkarni, who led the side last season in the red-ball competition when regular captain Shreyas Iyer was away on national duty.

Aditya Tare, the wicketkeeper-batsman, was named vice-captain for their first match against Baroda, with star players Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw and Shardul Thakur also in the mix.

Sarfaraz Khan, the big-hitting middle-order batsman who moved to Mumbai last year from Uttar Pradesh, also found a spot in the squad after recovering from an injury he picked up at the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He did not feature in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season after switching because of the mandatory one-year cooling-off period.

Siddhesh Lad to miss Mumbai's first game

Batsman Siddhesh Lad, one of the mainstays of the Mumbai side, will skip the first match of the season, away against Baroda, because of his wedding. He wasn't named in the original squad of 15, to be led by Suryakumar Yadav, which has a strong batting contingent headlined by the captain, vice-captain Aditya Tare, Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw, Jay Bista, Sarfaraz Khan and others.

Vijay Shankar to lead Tamil Nadu, M Vijay returns

Tamil Nadu allrounder Vijay Shankar has been handed the team's captaincy for the first time in the Ranji Trophy, following their squad announcement for the first two matches, against Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh.

R Ashwin and M Vijay will also turn out for Tamil Nadu, with the latter having recovered from an ankle injury that saw him sidelined from the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Baba Aparajith will be Shankar's deputy.

It is understood that Vijay Shankar pipped Ashwin to the captaincy role since the Test spinner may not be available when India tour New Zealand in January 2020 for a Test series.