Having been named in the Delhi squad for the upcoming Ranji Trophy fixture against Rajasthan, Gautam Gambhir and Ishant Sharma are set to be released from the Indian Test squad. The duo were included in the 16-member squad announced by Delhi & District Cricket Association (DDCA) alongside opener Shikhar Dhawan.
While Dhawan should be a definite starter for Delhi as he is not part of the Indian squad for the England series, Gambhir has reportedly shown interest in getting game time after being dropped for the second Test at Vizag. On the other hand, Ishant has been incorporated as the 16th member of his state side and could also participate in the Rajasthan match.
Not willing to take any chances, a backup has also been named for the national stars. The particular Ranji Trophy fixture is scheduled to take place from Monday at the Krishnagiri Stadium in Wayanad. Even though the captain’s name was not revealed by the DDCA press release, it is understood that regular skipper Unmukt Chand has evinced eagerness to hand over the reins to Gambhir during the meeting.
Apart from selectors Nikhil Chopra, Atul Wassan and Robin Singh, coach KP Bhaskar as well as co-convenor Siddharth Sahib Singh also attended the meeting. A member of Delhi’s selection panel said, “The selectors have spoken to Gautam (Gambhir) and he has expressed his interest in playing the next round encounter as he will be getting valuable match time. That’s the reason we have named Gautam in the squad. In case, we don’t get him, we have kept Himmat Singh as cover.”
On a flat surface at Rajkot, Gambhir struggled against England’s seamers and was replaced at Vizag by KL Rahul who had been added to the squad at the eleventh hour. Skipper Virat Kohli admitted, “Rahul is our number one opener along with Murali Vijay. Gautam got his chance as Rahul was injured but now that Rahul is fit and ready, we will look to stick to our old game plan.”
Ishant‘s last Test appearance came against West Indies during the rain-affected Test at Port of Spain. With Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav perceived as better options on subcontinental tracks because of their ability to extract reverse swing, the lanky seamer has not been able to break into the eleven.
The focus will also be on Dhawan who previously played in the second Test against New Zealand at Eden Gardens before suffering a thumb injury. Possessing proven and experienced personnel, Delhi would be eager to notch up a victory and push for a top three spot.
If both Gambhir and Ishant are released from the national squad ahead of the domestic clash, India have Amit Mishra, Hardik Pandya and Karun Nair in their reserves to perform substitution duties for the scheduled last couple of days. Due to the packed calendar, only one day separates the Ranji Trophy fixture from the third Test at Mohali.
Delhi Squad: Gautam Gambhir, Unmukt Chand, Shikhar Dhawan, Dhruv Shorey, Milind Kumar, Nitish Rana, Rishabh Pant, Manan Sharma, Pradeep Sangwan, Navdeep Saini, Sumit Narwal, Vikas Tokas, Sarthak Ranjan, Pulkit Narang, Varun Sood and Ishant Sharma; Stand By: Himmat Singh