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Rest firm favourites against Rajasthan in Irani Cup

September 30, 2011 15:03 IST

The Parthiv Patel-led Rest of India starts as firm favourites against a disjointed Rajasthan when the two teams square up in the Irani Cup match, at the Sawai Mansingh stadium, in Jaipur, on Saturday.

The match, which signals the start of India's first-class season, is pretty significant, as there are as many as seven players in Rest of India's first eleven who have been selected to play against England in the first two ODIs.

While the likes of Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane would like to have a decent hit in the middle, the three quicks -- Varun Aaron, Umesh Yadav and Ranganath Vinay Kumar – will be keen on bending their backs on a strip that might assist seamers.

Leggie Rahul Sharma, who has proved his mettle in the shortest version of the game, would also like to show his temperament in the five-day format in which he does not have a great record.

For Abhinav Mukund, it will be another chance to remind the selectors about cementing his claim for the reserve opener's berth in Test team. Mukund has fond memories of this ground, having scored 161 during the last edition of the Irani Cup.

Ditto for Ravindra Jadeja, who had some good performances at the venue while playing for Rajasthan Royals during the first edition of the IPL.

The very talented Manish Pandey also needs to get a big score to be in the scheme of things.

Although Rajasthan have retained the core of the squad, their preparation hasn't been up to the mark. It's been a sort of a rag-tag outfit and the murky politics of the RCA hasn't helped the team's cause either.

The new-ball bowlers Pankaj Singh and Deepak Chahar have had injury problems with the senior pacer being ruled out due to knee problems. Even Chahar, who grabbed eight wickets on his debut, is not 100 percent as he has split the webbing of his palm.

Much will depend on how the veteran trio of skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar, Aakash Chopra and Rashmi Ranjan Parida and young Ashok Menaria bat.

Parida and Menaria though are returning from injuries and can't exactly be termed match-fit.

The four players who are likely to sit out for Rest of India are Kerala pacer Prashant Parmeshwaran, Punjab batsman Mandeep Singh, wicketkeeper-batsman Chandrasekhar Murali Gautham and Madhya Pradesh batsman Jalaj Saxena.

The squads:

Rest of India (The XII): Parthiv Patel (captain/wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Abhinav Mukund, Ajinkya Rahane, Manish Pandey, Ravindra Jadeja, Rahul Sharma, Varun Aaron, Ranganath Vinay Kumar, Pragyan Ojha, Umesh Yadav, CM Gautham.

Rajasthan (from): Hrishikesh Kanitkar (captain), Aakash Chopra, Vineet Saxena, Rashmi Ranjan Parida, Ashok Menaria, Robin Bisht, Dishant Yagnik (wk), Pankaj Singh, Deepak Chahar, Sumit Mathur, Aniket Choudhary, Madhur Khatri, Gajendra Singh, Rohit Jhalani (wk), Vaibhav Deshpande. Coach Amit Asawa.

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