Sheldon Jackson, the domestic veteran, is set to return to Saurashtra, the team he won the Ranji Trophy with in 2019-20. After the Ranji win, Jackson moved to Puducherry as a professional player. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Jackson ended up not playing in the Ranji Trophy for Puducherry, and only represented the team in the limited-overs formats, in the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Saurashtra Cricket Association president Jaydev Shah confirmed to Press Trust of India that Jackson has obtained the NOC from Puducherry and is eligible for selection immediately.

While Puducherry failed to make the knockouts of both limited-overs competitions, Jackson was the team's second-highest run-getter in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, with 227 runs in five innings, including a best of 104. He did even better in the Mushtaq Ali T20s, top-scoring with 242 runs in five innings, including his maiden century in the format, an unbeaten match-winning 106 against Andhra. He has credited this stint for his return to the IPL fold after four years, being signed for his base price of INR 20 lakh by the Kolkata Knight Riders in the 2021 auction.

Jackson, 34, is among the more accomplished batters in the domestic circuit, averaging 49.42 in 76 first-class matches, with 19 centuries and 27 half-centuries. He averages 37.42 in 60 List A matches, while striking at 117.09 across 59 T20s.

The exits of Jackson and Pankaj Singh, the former India fast bowler (who retired from all forms of cricket), leaves Puducherry with a huge void to fill ahead of the season. The side has had three professional players - the most allowed to any team - in all seasons since their entry into the domestic fold in 2018-19, much like most of the teams that were brought into the domestic ambit following the Lodha recommendations.

Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo