Murali Vijay, R Ashwin included in Tamil Nadu's squad for Ranji opener
What's the story?
Indian opener Abhinav Mukund has been announced as Tamil Nadu's captain for the 2017 Ranji Trophy season with Baba Indrajith named as his deputy. For the opening game of the season against Andhra, Indian internationals Murali Vijay and Ravichandran Ashwin will be available.
Owing to their national and India A commitments, Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar won't be part of the squad for the opener, which features two players who got their maiden Ranji call-up in R Sai Kishore and V Lakshman.
Speaking about the return of Vijay and Ashwin, Mukund told TOI: "To have two Test cricketers - Vijay and Ashwin - back in the squad is amazing. The good thing about this Tamil Nadu side is that the top-7 have done well at the top and this has been possible due to the strong showing of the team in the last season".
The heart of the matter
The 27-year-old Indian opener added that he was always the front-runner to be captain, especially due to the fact that he will be available for the entirety of the group stages of the competition.
The 28 teams competing in this year's competition are in four groups with Tamil Nadu in Group C. Alongside them are Odisha, Tripura, Madhya Pradesh, Baroda, Mumbai and their opponents in the first round of matches, Andhra.
Tamil Nadu squad: Abhinav Mukund (Captain), B Indrajith (vice-captain), M Vijay, M Kaushik Gandhi, N Jagadeesan (WK), B Aparajith, MS Washington Sundar, Rahil Shah, K Vignesh, R Ashwin, L Vignesh, R Sai Kishore, V Lakshman, R Rohith (WK) and Malolan Rangarajan.
In case you didn't know...
After a great finish to the 2016 season in which they claimed two limited-overs titles, Tamil Nadu will be looking to make a strong start to the 2017 edition of the Ranji Trophy. While they were one of the teams who flourished under the neutral venue format, it will be interesting to see how they fare this season as it will see the return of the home and away format.
The presence of Murali Vijay, KL Rahul and Shikhar Dhawan has made it difficult for Abhinav Mukund to establish his place in the Test side but a strong start to the Ranji season might just keep him in the reckoning for a spot in the squad for the Sri Lanka Test series that begins on November 16 at Kolkata.
After a strong performance in Division two of the County Championship, helping Worcestershire get promoted, Ashwin will be keen to have a great start to the season. As will Murali Vijay, who has been plagued by injuries. The addition of these two stars makes it a strong squad and one that Andhra will need to be wary of, especially given that they are playing the game in Chennai.