Duleep Trophy 2017 Preview: Big names higher stakes

Duleep Trophy 2017 Preview: Big names higher stakes

Dinesh Karthik's India Red will face Parthiv Patel's India Green in the opening encounter.

Duleep Trophy Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina and Parthiv Patel. (Photo by MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images)

There was little clarity if the tournament will be held this year but the pot-boiling saga is now over and the answer to the question is known to all. We are finally set for the 56th edition of the Duleep Trophy, the tournament where the out of favour cricketers will try their level best to register their names again in the national selectors’ diary. The 4-day Test tournament was initially dropped by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) from the Indian domestic schedule.

However, following former Indian skipper Sourav Ganguly‘s letter to the Committee of Administrators (CoA), it was reinstalled again. Like last year, Duleep Trophy will continue to remain a Day/Night tournament, which means it will be played with the pink ball.

This tournament will also mark the debut of the Ekana International Cricket Stadium in Lucknow. Three teams- India Blue, India Red and India Green will battle it out for the coveted crown from Thursday (September 7). While the duration of the league stage matches is 4 days, the final will be played over a span of 5 days in Lucknow. Besides Lucknow, Green Park Stadium in Kanpur will also be used for staging the tournament.

The history

Named after KS Duleepsinhji, the tournament was initially started as a zonal competition way back in 1961, and West Zone was crowned the champions in the inaugural season. For the 2002-03 season, the zone format was scrapped and instead the players were divided into 5 teams-  Elite A, Elite B, Elite C, Plate A and Plate B. However, that format also didn’t work well and the BCCI had to return to the zonal format.

But finally in 2016, they found the best possible solution to the conundrum- that is by picking up the best players from India and diving them in Blue, Green and Red teams. India Blue were the champions in the first and till date the only season in this version of the Duleep Trophy.

Focus will be on

Batsmen

Priyank Panchal- India Red

The 27-year-old batsman has not really had a string of opportunities but has delivered whenever he was called upon to do so. Panchal played only a couple of matches for India A, where he has got one century. His knock of 103 against visitors Bangladesh was praised by many. The selectors will certainly have an eye of the talented lad from Gujarat who was the leading run-scorer of the previous Ranji Trophy season with 1310 runs.

Suresh Raina- India Blue

The most notable mention among those featuring in the glamourless Duleep Trophy is certainly Suresh Raina. Raina will be grabbing the maximum share of eyeballs. The limited-overs specialist was in the queue but wasn’t considered for boarding the flight to Sri Lanka.

It was reported that the southpaw failed to clear the yo-yo fitness test. The matter did not end there as the BCCI selection committee faced bashing from all around, including former cricketers. Former Indian opener Virender Sehwag openly slammed the individuals who selected the team for not picking up an experienced player like Raina. It is now the turn of the 30-year-old batter from Uttar Pradesh to gets some runs under his belt and enhance his chances of returning back to the team.

Murali Vijay- India Green

Indian skipper Virat Kohli has the problem of plenty at the moment when he sits down to pick openers for the Test team. With Shikhar Dhawan’s extraordinary performance in the recently concluded Test series against Sri Lanka, his position is the team is nailed. As of the other slot, Murali Vijay is the first choice but he has the sword hanging with KL Rahul also battling for the same spot. The 33-year-old batsman from Chennai must look to make the most of this tournament and get back his form since he will be making a comeback in the team, next time they play a Test.

Bowlers

Chama Milind- India Red

Milind’s career had been a topsy-turvy ride until last year, where he picked up as many as 35 wickets and scored 316 runs. In the pink-ball game, the seamers will play a vital role for his team and it goes without saying that the young pacer will be the one to watch out for in the India Red lineup.

Ishant Sharma- India Blue

Just like his skipper Raina, there has been a lot of talks centring Ishant. With an abundance of pace bowlers in the Indian Test ranks off late the 29-year-old hasn’t been able to break into the playing XI as often as he would’ve liked. The Indian team has crucial overseas tours on the plan and Ishant would want to make an impression here to further enhance his probability of starting in the first team.

Mohammed Siraj- India Green

Siraj came into limelight when Indian Premier League (IPL) team Sunrisers Hyderabad spent big bucks to get the signature of this 23-year-old bowler from the native state. He has justified his hefty price tag by virtue of some extraordinary spells, and from thereon his success story has been doing rounds in the media. The Duleep Trophy provides the young pacer a great opportunity to display his swing bowling skills with the pink ball.

Squads

India Red- Priyank Panchal, Sudip Chatterjee, Ishank Jaggi, Prithvi Shaw, Dinesh Karthik (C), Rishabh Pant, Baba Indrajith, Krishnappa Gowtham, Karn Sharma, Basil Thampi, Dhawal Kulkarni, Siddarth Kaul, Ashok Dinda, Chama Milind

India Blue- Suresh Raina (C), Samit Gohel, Srikar Bharat, Abhimanyu Easwaran, Manoj Tiwary, Deepak Hooda, Vijay Shankar, Ishan Kishan, Jayant Yadav, Bhargav Bhatt, Kaushik Gandhi, Ishant Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot, Sagun Kamat, Jaydev Unadkat

India Green- Murali Vijay, Ravikumar Samarth, Prashant Chopra, Shreyas Iyer, Karun Nair, Ankit Bawne, Parthiv Patel (C), Shahbaz Nadeem, Parvez Rasool, Navdeep Saini, Mohammed Siraj, Mayank Dagar, Nitin Saini, Aniket Choudhary

Fixtures

Match 1: 7-10 September – India Red v India Green at Lucknow

Match 2: 13-16 September – India Red v India Blue at Kanpur

Match 3: 19-22 September – India Blue v India Green at Kanpur

Final: 25-29 September – TBD v TBD at Lucknow