Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo. @scarletrun
KL Rahul and Umesh Yadav will not turn out for Karnataka and Vidarbha respectively in the quarter-finals of the Ranji Trophy beginning on Thursday. While Rahul misses out with a niggle, none of the fast bowlers selected for the South Africa tour next month will be released for the Ranji Trophy knockouts. That means Ishant Sharma, Umesh and Mohammed Shami, whose teams have made the last eight, will not be available for Delhi, Vidarbha and Bengal respectively in the quarter-finals and the semis, if their teams advance. Jasprit Bumrah, the other seamer in India's 17-member squad, will also miss Gujarat's knockout games as he is in the squads for the limited-overs series against Sri Lanka.
A BCCI official said it was unwise to risk the fast bowlers ahead of a major overseas tour. "We all know these guys have played so much cricket. Everyone is looking jaded and since the [Ranji Trophy] teams have already done well without them, it makes more sense for these guys to be rested," he told ESPNcricinfo. "The fast bowlers are going to be the most important guys for the South Africa series and you can't take a risk at this stage."
The official, however, indicated the India think-tank was inclined towards the batsmen getting some red-ball cricket under their belt. Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane, who has been going through a bad patch, could use a hit but their participation looks unlikely. Rahane aggregated 17 runs in five innings during the Sri Lanka series, and scored a 49 and 45, bookended by two ducks, for Mumbai in the group stage of the Ranji Trophy.
"KL has a niggle and Rahane is part of the ODI series, so where is the chance for them to play? Had Rahul been well, it would have been nice for him to play" the official said. "At the moment, all these guys have to go to the NCA (National Cricket Academy) [for conditioning and rehab].
Rahul has played two games for Karnataka this season and has managed scores of 4, 23, 9 and 92. He has since played the first two Tests against Sri Lanka where he has produced 86 runs from three innings. Umesh, on the other hand, has picked up nine wickets from the two games he turned out for Vidarbha. He played the Kolkata and Nagpur Tests and claimed a total of five wickets. Karnataka will take on Mumbai in Nagpur, while Vidarbha will take on Kerala in Surat in the quarter-finals.