The domestic season-ending five-day Irani Cup game between newly crowned Ranji Trophy champions Mumbai and the Rest of India, commencing here tomorrow, will provide fringe players a good opportunity to stake claims for the national team.
The first class match is the last occasion for hopefuls from both ranks to impress the five-member national selection panel headed by Sandeep Patil before attention shifts totally to the T20 format, commencing with the ICC World T20 Championships.
With the country expected to play over 15 Test matches post Indian Premier League till the end of next season, this match is the ideal platform for these players to strengthen their claims for the long Test haul.
Mumbai, who clinched the Ranji crown for the 41st time last week by defeating Saurashtra by an innings, have a settled combination led by wicket keeper batsman Aditya Tare.
They appear to be better prepared than the motley bunch of Rest of India, being led by Madhya Pradesh stumper Naman Ojha.
However, they would take the Rest of India lightly at their own peril as the latter have a good bowling attack at their command even without originally named Barinder Sran and Nathu Singh who have been injured and replaced by Ankit Rajpoot and Anureet Singh, according to their coach Ashish Kapoor.
The team has Andhra’s K S Bharat, who can open the innings, as the second keeper and Vidarbha’s Faiz Fazal as his likely opening partner.
The batting appears a bit weak and would be dependent mainly on the experienced trio of Ojha, Karnataka’s Karun Nair and Saurashtra’s Sheldon Jackson.
Saurashtra’s left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat, who had a good Ranji season with a haul of 40 wickets - including four in the final against Mumbai - in 11 games, will spearhead the Rest of India pace attack along with Krishna Das of Assam who has forced his way with a grab of 50 wickets from 10 matches.
The spin attack looks thin with Jharkhand left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and Haryana off-spinner Jayant Yadav to
man it though there is Akshay Wakhare in the squad as the other off spin option.