Irani Cup preview | Pujara in focus as Saurashtra meets Rest of India

Pujara undoubtedly will be the bedrock of the Saurashtra batting that boasts of the second highest run-getter in the 2022-23 Ranji season

October 01, 2023 12:33 am | Updated 12:33 am IST - Rajkot

Well prepared: Saurashtra’s Pujara and Unadkat are coming off a county stint with Sussex.

Well prepared: Saurashtra’s Pujara and Unadkat are coming off a county stint with Sussex. | Photo Credit: File photo: VIVEK BENDRE

Sandwiched between the Asian Games and the World Cup cricket, the Irani Cup match, which begins at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here on Sunday, derives its relevance from being the communion of the have-beens and the wannabes attempting to nourish their Team India prospects.

Cheteshwar Pujara, the can-do-all-day stonewaller, will be the buzz-making stately presence. Will be interesting to watch if he’s being busy or attritional with the bat.

Pujara undoubtedly will be the bedrock of the Saurashtra batting that boasts of the second highest run-getter in the 2022-23 Ranji season, Arpit Vasavada. The team also has the 37-year-old Sheldon Jackson who’s known to string long partnerships with Pujara.

The bowling will be spearheaded by captain Jaydev Unadkat. Pujara and Unadkat come off a county stint with Sussex.

Similarly, Rest of India’s B. Sai Sudharsan comes off a county stint with Surrey. The 21-year-old, who has been in fine form and recently won the TNCA cricketer of the year award, will be among the young talents to watch out for along with Sarfaraz Khan, Yash Dhull, and Rohan Kunnummal. Will be interesting to see where they feature in the batting order.

RoI’s batting will be shouldered by the experienced Mayank Agarwal, the highest run-getter in the last Ranji season, and captain Hanuma Vihari.

Bengal’s Akash Deep, who replaced the injured Shivam Mavi in the Rest of India squad, is not expected to play as he’s in the India squad at the Asian Games in Hangzhou.

Navdeep Saini is expected to lead the pace attack with Karnataka’s Vidwath Kaverappa. Shams Mulani (left-arm orthodox), the second highest wicket-taker in the 2022-23 Ranji season, Uttar Pradesh’s Saurabh Kumar (left-arm orthodox), and Delhi’s Pulkit Narang (off-spin) are the spnners in the squad.

K.S. Bharat will don the gloves for Rest of India. Gloveman Dhruv Jurel also features in the squad.

The squads:

Rest of India: Hanuma Vihari (captain); KS. Bharat; Mayank Agarwal; Yash Dhull; Shams Mulani; Sai Sudarshan; Sarfaraz Khan; Pulkit Narang; Saurabh Kumar; Yash Dayal; Navdeep Saini; Vidwath Kaverappa; Akash Deep; Rohan Kunnummal; Dhruv Jurel.

Saurashtra: Jaydev Unadkat (captain); Cheteshwar Pujara; Sheldon Jackson; Arpit Vasavada; Harvik Desai; Dharmendrasinh Jadeja; Prerak Mankad; Chirag Jani; Jay Gohil; Parth Bhut; Vishvarajsinh Jadeja, Samarth Vyas; Yuvrajsinh Dodiya; Kushang Patel; Snell Patel; Devang Karamta.

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