Suresh Raina to captain Uttar Pradesh in Ranji Trophy opener
What's the story?
Uttar Pradesh have announced Suresh Raina as the captain of the side for their Ranji Trophy opener against Railways at Lucknow. After captaining the India Blue team in the Duleep Trophy 2017, Raina will focus his attention on his state side who open their Ranji campaign at home.
Uttar Pradesh squad: Suresh Raina (captain), Shivam Chaudhary, Himanshu Asnora, Rinku Singh, Akshdeep Nath, Eklavya Dwivedi, Umang Sharma, Almas Shaukat, Saurabh Kumar, Zeeshan Ansari, Deependra Pandey, Ankit Rajput,Praveen Kumar, Kartik Tyagi, Imtiyaz Ahmad, Israr Azim and Dhruv Pratap Singh.
In case you didn't know...
The 30-year-old was the captain of the India Blue side that lost to India Red in the final. He had a decent tournament, having scored a fifty and two forties in the three games that he played. Although he took part in the T20I series against England earlier this year, he hasn't been part of the Indian squad ever since. He was overlooked for the Champions Trophy and the tours of West Indies, Sri Lanka and the ongoing series against Australia.
The heart of the matter
The 2017 edition of the Ranji Trophy will begin on Friday (October 6) with 28 teams taking part in the tournament that will see 91 games being played. While the previous edition of the tournament saw the arrival of neutral venues, this season will see the return of the traditional home and away format after much demand to bring it back.
The 28 teams have been split into four groups and Uttar Pradesh are in Group A, alongside Delhi, Assam, Hyderabad, Maharashtra, Karnataka and their opponents in the opening round of matches, Railways.
While Raina's place in Tests side, a format that he hasn't played since 2015, is done and dusted, he will be looking to regain his place in the ODI side for the upcoming series against New Zealand with a strong performance in the opening round of Ranji Trophy 2017.
The 30-year-old has been undertaking rigorous training ever since he was dropped from the Indian squad for the Champions Trophy. He marshalled his troops brilliantly in the Duleep Trophy and while the Indian limited-overs side looks settled, they could always use an experienced hand.
With over 200 ODIs to his name, the southpaw certainly brings in a lot of that. Capable of providing an all-round option, he will be looking to reclaim his place in the Indian limited-overs side.