Harbhajan Singh will lead Rest of India against the Ranji Trophy champion Karnataka in the five-day Irani Cup to be played at Bangalore from February 9 to 13.

The national selection committee has probably thrown the first hints of Gautam Gambhir’s return to the Indian squad by picking him as the opening partner to Punjab's Jiwanjot Singh.

With the Asia Cup and ICC World Twenty20 to be played in Bangladesh, it would be interesting to see how Gambhir shapes up in the last first-class match of the season.

Maharashtra’s middle-order batsmen Kedar Jadhav and Ankit Bawne have also been rewarded for their prolific run-scoring right through the season, but opener Harshad Khadiwale - though among the three batsmen, who scored over 1000 runs this season - does not find a place in the 15-member squad because of his dismal run in the knock-out phase of the Ranji Trophy.

Bengal’s Ashoke Dinda, Rajasthan’s Pankaj Singh and Railways’ Anureet Singh - among the top five wicket-takers in the just-completed Ranji Trophy - have also been picked, but Himachal Pradesh’s Rishi Dhawan has not been as lucky; he topped the bowling averages for the season with 49 wickets at 20.30.

Dhawan told The Hindu over phone that he is not injured.

The Rest of India team: Harbhajan Singh (captain), Jiwanjot Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Baba Aparajith, Kedar Jadhav, Ankit Bawne, Dinesh Kartik, Amit Mishra, Pankaj Singh, Ashoke Dinda, Varun Aaron, Parvez Rasool, Anureet Singh, Natraj Behera, Mandeep Singh.

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