After scaling yet another peak, by retaining the Ranji Trophy a few days ago, Vidarbha will again have to hit prime form soon against a strong Rest of India (ROI) side as it chases history in the Irani Cup which begins at VCA stadium on Tuesday.
Unlike in the previous season, this year’s title triumph in Ranji Trophy for Vidarbha has come after an intense battle with Saurashtra.
The Vidarbha players will have to be back at their best against ROI for doing an encore in the Irani Cup and become only the third team to do so.
But it doesn’t has to look far ahead for motivation as the 41-year-old Wasim Jaffar is all geared up to do well and is also chasing some personal records as well.
Though Vidarbha has the obvious advantage of playing the final at the VCA stadium – which has of late become a fortress for the home side – the depth and quality of ROI’s batting will be a tough test for its bowling spearheaded by Umesh Yadav.
Rajneesh Gurbani, whose swing bowling was instrumental in Vidarbha’s twin triumph last season, has not been the same force this season. But his ineffectiveness was camouflaged by Umesh and Aditya Sarwate’s magical spells. The duo will again hold the key against ROI.
The wicket at the VCA stadium, which has traditionally been more kind to batsmen will be of interest as the wear and tear and its slowness at the end of season will help the slow bowlers.
Rahane eyes good show
The ROI led by Indian Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane has a formidable batting line-up with a mix of Indian players and consistent performers in Ranji Trophy this season.
India internationals Mayank Agarwal, Hanuma Vihari, Shreyas Iyer along with wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan, who looked in fine touch in the India A series against England Lions, and promising Punjab opener Anmolpreet Singh will be more than a handful for Vidarbha bowlers.
Dharmendrasinh Jadeja and Snell Patel, who were the backbone of Saurashtra’s campaign in Ranji Trophy, and Kerala medium pacer Sandeep Warrier have earned their places in the squad.
Fast bowlers Ankit Rajpoot, Ronit More and Tanveer Ul Haq, who all had good season in Ranji Trophy, is sure to give selection headaches to captain Rahane.
Leg spinner Rahul Chahar, who is coming into the match after a fine show against England Lions, and off-spinner K.Gowtham will have also strong cases for their inclusion in playing XI given the conditions at VCA stadium.
Rest of India: Ajinkya Rahane (C), Mayak Agarwal, Anmolpreet Singh, Hanuma Vihari, Shreyas Iyer, Ishan Kishan, K. Gowtham, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Rahul Chahar, Ankit Rajpoot, Tanveer Ul Haq, Ronit More, Sandeep Warrier, Rinku Singh and Snell Patel.
Vidarbha: Faiz Fazal (C), R. Sanjay, Atharva Taide, Wasim Jaffer, Ganesh Satish, Mohit, Kale, Akshay Wadkar, Siddhesh Wath, Aditya Sarwate, Akshay Karneware, Akshay Wakhare, Umesh Yadav, Rajneesh Gurbani, Yash Thakur and Suniket Bingewar.