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Rediff.com  » Cricket » Harbhajan to lead Rest of India; Gambhir in squad for Irani Trophy

Harbhajan to lead Rest of India; Gambhir in squad for Irani Trophy

Last updated on: February 03, 2014 16:41 IST

Harbhajan SinghOut-of-favour India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has been handed a golden opportunity to get back into the reckoning after being named captain of Rest of India for the Irani Cup match against Ranji Trophy champions Karnataka, in Bangalore, from February 9 to 13.

Also included in the Rest of India team is Gautam Gambhir, who is also keen to make a comeback to the Indian team.

However, his Delhi team mate Virender Sehwag failed to make the cut after a poor run in the Ranji Trophy.

Harbhajan had a modest performance in the just-concluded tournament, claiming 22 wickets from five matches, while Gambhir excelled with the bat, scoring 578 runs from seven matches for Delhi.

Maharashtra batsman Kedar Jadhav, who finished as the highest run scorer in the Ranji Trophy, with 1,223 runs at an average of 87.35, including six centuries, was also named in the side.

Surprisingly, Himachal Pradesh pacer Rishi Dhawan, who claimed the most wickets -- 49 scalps in eight games – was ignored even as Anureet Singh of Railways, who finished second with 44 wickets in eight games, got the selectors' nod.

Pacer Varun Aaron, who played in the recently-concluded ODI series in New Zealand, was also named in the 15-member Rest of India squad. Leg spinner Amit Mishra, who was benched in both the ODI series in South Africa and New Zealand, will get another opportunity to prove his worth.

The pace attack also comprises the experienced Ashoke Dinda of Bengal and Rajasthan's Pankaj Singh, who claimed 40 and 30 wickets respectively.

Jammu and Kashmir all-rounder Parvez Rasool also forced his way in after a splendid all-round showing. He took 27 wickets in nine games, while scoring 663 runs, at an average of 51.

Wicketkeeper Dinesh Kartik also got a chance to impress despite a modest showing for Tamil Nadu, as he finished with 401 runs in eight games.

His young team mate Baba Aprajith, who was Tamil Nadu's highest scorer with 584 runs from eight games, is also in the squad.

Karnataka won the Ranji Trophy for the seventh time after being Maharashtra by seven wickets in the final on Sunday.

The squad:

1.   Harbhajan Singh  (captain)

2.   Jiwanjyot Singh

3.   Gautam Gambhir

4.   Baba Aparajith

5.   Kedar Jadhav

6.   Ankit Bawne

7.   Dinesh Kartik

8.   Amit Mishra

9.   Pankaj Singh

10. Ashoke Dinda

11. Varun Aaron

12. Parvez Rasool

13. Anureet Singh

14. Natraj Behera

15. Mandeep Singh

Image: Harbhajan Singh