Ranji Trophy 2017-18: Best XI of the Indian national players

Ranji Trophy 2017-18: Best XI of the Indian national players

These players will look to get back into the groove before being picked for the national side for the remainder of the home season.

Gujarat team with the Ranji Trophy title
Gujarat Ranji team with Ranji Trophy 2016-17 trophy.

Ranji Trophy is all set to commence in its new format on October 6 as twenty-eight teams will compete for the ultimate glory. The 84th edition of the historic tournament will be concluded on January 02 in 2018 and it would be interesting to see which team comes out triumphant after the hard work for three long months. However, few teams have been boosted by the inclusion of the regular national players in their squad.

Indian team is currently busy playing limited overs format at the international level which has given these Test specialists time to serve their respective state teams. The next assignment for Virat Kohli and his men in the longest format is the series against Sri Lanka which will embark from November 16. Ranji Trophy is the best medium through which these players could keep themselves ready for the upcoming challenge at the highest level.

We bring you the pre-season best XI of the Indian national players featuring in Ranji Trophy this year:

Gautam Gambhir (Delhi)

Gautam Gambhir
Gautam Gambhir. (Photo Source: BCCI)

Gautam Gambhir is one of the best players India has ever produced across all formats. But he is now struggling to get back into the set-up as other players have emerged successfully during the period he was ousted from the team. He made a brief comeback late last year during the 5-match Test series against England and played a couple of matches. He impressed with his technique as well but was again ignored once the preferred openers returned. Although the chances of him making it to the team are very remote, he remains one of the finest batsmen of the country ever.

Murali Vijay (Tamil Nadu)

(Photo Source: Twitter)

Vijay is returning from a wrist injury which he aggravated during the series against Australia earlier this year. He was picked for the tour of Sri Lanka but was sidelined due to the same injury again. Shikhar Dhawan who replaced him for the tour won the Man of the Series award in Sri Lanka.

Now it is important for the right-hander to prove his form in the domestic tournament and grab his spot as the first choice opener of the Test team. He is a vital cog in the line-up as Indian team is set to be on the road for the most part of the next year.

Cheteshwar Pujara (Saurashtra) (C)

Cheteshwar Pujara
Indian cricketer Cheteshwar Pujara. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

Cheteshwar Pujara has been named the skipper of Saurashtra for this season, but he will only be available until early days of November as he will be an automatic pick in the Indian team. Despite being a Test specialist, Pujara has worked hard to stay fit and in form in the free time by playing in England in his county stint for Nottinghamshire.

The veteran is a huge player for the team and forms the core of the side. The No. 3 batsman is termed as the ‘new wall’ of the Men in Blue after Rahul Dravid. He would love to score runs before the series against the team from Island nation begins next month.

Suresh Raina (Uttar Pradesh)

Suresh Raina Indian squad
India’s Suresh Raina. (Photo by PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images)

Suresh Raina, the skipper of Uttar Pradesh, will play one of the most important editions of Ranji Trophy of his career. He has been guilty of failing the last couple of fitness tests ahead of the selection of the squad for India and India A respectively.

He has a great chance to prove his worth by playing some big knocks early in the tournament and get picked for the upcoming ODI series against New Zealand. Though, it remains to be seen if the selectors give him one last chance and that becomes possible only if he shines for his state side in the upcoming week.

Yuvraj Singh (Punjab)

Yuvraj Singh of India
Yuvraj Singh of India. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

Unlike Suresh Raina, the left-hander Yuvraj Singh is not even under the radar of the selectors. He was not even picked in any of the Duleep Trophy squads where the top 45 players in the country are selected. He is a fighter though and would love to stamp his authority in the first few games of the tournament to be back in contention. He last donned the India jersey in West Indies and looked out of form as he could not score big runs. He also failed the fitness test like Raina and has been sidelined since then.

Wriddhiman Saha (Bengal)

Wriddhiman Saha
Wriddhiman Saha. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The best wicketkeeper-batsman in India currently, Wriddhiman Saha will represent Bengal in the upcoming Ranji Trophy. He enjoyed a considerable break after being a crucial part of the historic whitewash of Sri Lanka in Tests. He will no doubt walk into the side once the Test side will be picked for the home series against the same side. Though, he would love to hit good straps both behind the wickets and with the bat. The stern test of Saha will be after the home season when India will travel to South Africa early in the next year.

Ravichandran Ashwin (Tamil Nadu)

Ravichandran Ashwin
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo Source: Twitter)

The best spinner for India albeit in the longest format of the game, for now, Ravichandran Ashwin is in good form as his County stint with Worcestershire was excellent. He displayed his all-round prowess and played a crucial in his team’s title-winning triumph in the second Division of the tournament. Ashwin will just look to continue his rich vein of form in India as he will look to make a comeback in the limited overs side.

A decent performance in the opening game of the season should be enough for him to earn his place for the ODI series against New Zealand.

Ravindra Jadeja (Saurashtra)

Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja of India. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

The case of Ravindra Jadeja is also like his bowling partner Ashwin. The emphatic performances of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal have kept him out of the side despite being the part of the squad for the first three ODIs against Australia. He has also not been included in the T20I squad against the same team and is now under the serious threat of being restricted as only the Test bowler. However, Jadeja himself knows he is a much better bowler in the shorter formats and soon needs to hit form and what better than performing in one of the most followed tournaments in India.

However, Jadeja himself knows he is a much better bowler in the shorter formats and soon needs to hit form and what better than performing in one of the most followed tournaments in India.

Vinay Kumar (Karnataka)

Vinay Kumar
Vinay Kumar. (Photo by Pal Pillai/Getty Images)

Vinay Kumar created the history by commanding Karnataka to back to back titles wins under his inspiring leadership during 2013/14 and 2014/15 seasons. He was once considered as the best death bowler for India in the limited overs format. But the string of poor performances kept him out of the side and now he is one of the best bowlers for his state. He could not defend the trophy for the third time but would like to clinch it this time around and gain the attention of the selectors once again.

Ishant Sharma (Delhi)

Ishant Sharma India
Ishant Sharma. (Photo Source: Twitter)

Ishant Sharma now has become the Test specialist for India and would love to lead from the front for Delhi in Ranji Trophy. He needs to perform in the upcoming matches though as he has warmed the bench, for the most part, this year. He didn’t play a single game in Sri Lanka and would look to mark his return to the playing XI in the first Test against them in Kolkata.

The tall bowler is vital for the fortunes of the Indian team overseas as he generates a lot of bounce because of his height. He should take care that he doesn’t aggravate any kind of injury ahead of some important tours.

Shardul Thakur (Mumbai)

Shardul Thakur News
Indian cricketer Shardul Thakur. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)

The youngster Shardul Thakur made his international debut in the island nation during the ODI series. But he was removed from the team for the home series against Australia and was drafted in the India A squad against New Zealand A. The rookie impressed with the red ball too and looks a great prospect for the future. He also generates good pace with the ball and needs to keep performing to stay in contention for the national side.