A day after refusing to select Ishant Sharma, whom they couldn't reach to check on his availability for the first Ranji Trophy match of the season, the Delhi selectors have intriguingly selected him for the first match even though Ishant has communicated to them he will be available for the second match. A Delhi and Districts Cricket Association (DDCA) press release said: "Ishant Sharma has confirmed his availability for the second Ranji Trophy match but we are including him in the team right now."
This prompts a remarkable question that DDCA is not willing to answer clearly: if the reason to try to reach Ishant was to confirm his availability, why is it defeating the purpose by selecting Ishant now that he has expressed his desire to rest for the first match, which starts on October 1, three days after the end of India's pre-season preparatory camp in Bangalore? Vinay Lamba, the chairman of selectors, said they would love for him to play in the first match too.
Ishant, in the middle of some good Test-match form, was not selected for India's limited-overs teams. Moreover, he has been banned by the ICC from playing the first Test against South Africa, which begins in the first week of November. That made him available for Ranji Trophy, but the Delhi selectors created a stir by not naming him in the squad of 15. The chairman of selectors said they did so because Ishant didn't answer his phone or respond to his text. He said they were not sure of his availability. Now, they have gone ahead and selected him despite knowing he is not available.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo