Indian Test wicketkeeper Wriddhiman Saha has opted out of Bengal's Ranji Trophy squad for "personal reasons". A Cricket Association of Bengal official confirmed this development to ESPNcricinfo but did not elaborate on what the exact reason might be.
It could not be verified whether the Indian selectors or team management have had a word with Saha recently about his future and whether that prompted the 37-year old to skip the league phase of Ranji.
With Rishabh Pant firmly in place as India's first-choice wicketkeeper, Saha has been the back-up in India's Test squads. However, given his age, and KS Bharat exhibiting excellent glove-work when he came on as a substitute during India's home Test series against New Zealand in November-December 2021, the selectors have two keepers in their 20s to call on. Bharat, who is 28, has been a regular with India A for the past few years.
Meanwhile, there was another senior player missing from his team for the Ranji Trophy, with Robin Uthappa not part of the Kerala squad. It is understood that Uthappa is recovering from a hamstring injury he suffered during the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20s in December. He is expected be back to full fitness soon, but is likely to miss the league phase of the Ranji Trophy, which ends before IPL 2022 starts in late March.
Uthappa, who hit match-turning knocks in the semi-final and final of IPL 2021 for defending champions Chennai Super Kings, has listed his base price at the maximum - INR 2 crore - for the IPL 2022 auction that will take place on February 12 and 13.
Sanju Samson was also not named in the Kerala squad, but that is because he is undergoing rehab at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. The Kerala Cricket Association said in a statement that Samson was expected to join the team once his fitness was cleared.
Bengal are in Elite Group B of the Ranji Trophy, with Baroda, Hyderabad and Chandigarh. They will play their matches in Cuttack.
Kerala are in Elite Group A, alongside Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Meghalaya. Their matches will take place in Rajkot.
The Ranji Trophy was not played last season because of the Covid-19 pandemic and will be held in two phases this time, before and after the IPL. It was originally scheduled to begin on January 13 but was postponed because of the third wave of infections across the country due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Bengal squad: Abhimanyu Easwaran (capt), Manoj Tiwary, Sudip Chatterjee, Anustup Majumdar, Abhishek Kumar Raman, Sudip Kumar Gharami, Abishek Das, Writtick Chatterjee, Ritwik Roy Chowdhury, Abishek Porel (wk), Shahbaz Ahamed, Sayan Sekhar Mondal, Akash Deep, Ishan Porel, Mukesh Kumar, Kazi Junaid Saifi, Sakir Habib Gandhi (wk), Pradipta Pramanik, Geet Puri, Nilkantha Das, Karan Lal, Ravi Kumar
Kerela squad: Sachin Baby (capt), Vishnu Vinod (vice-capt, wk), Anand Krishnan, Rohan Kunnumel, Vatsal Govind, Rahul P, Salman Nizar, Jalaj Saxena, Sijomon Jopseph, Akshay K C, Mithun S, Basil N P, Nideesh M D, Manu Krishnan, Basil Thampi, Fanoos F, S Sreeshanth, Varun Nayanar (wk), Vinoop Manoharan, Eden Apple Tom.