Former India cricketers found no logic in India players Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja not being released for the Ranji Trophy final between Mumbai and Saurashtra, which starts tomorrow at the Wankhede Stadium.
MS Dhoni & Co have already taken an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match ODI series against England following their five-wicket victory in Mohali on Wednesday. There were doubts whether the final ODI in Dharamsala would be played due to bad weather conditions.
In the last game against England, Rohit scored a masterly 83 while his Mumbai teammate Rahane, who opened with Gautam Gambhir, had to sit out. Jadeja continues to impress with his all-round skills, but his Saurashtra mate Pujara is yet to make his ODI debut.
Former India captain Ajit Wadekar said these players should be released for the Ranji final. “Anyway the series has been won. So, they can try some other youngsters and release these four players for the Ranji final. The best teams and players should be playing the final. It is after all our premier domestic tournament. The availability of top players will also create some excitement among the public as well,” Wadekar told MiD DAY yesterday.
Anshuman Gaekwad, former India batsman and coach, said ideally the Ranji final should have been postponed to ensure availability of all players. The final ODI is on January 27 while the Ranji final starts a day before. “The Indian board could have postponed the Ranji final by two days. I don’t see an issue in doing this. It is a Ranji final and not any other match. It is a big occasion in domestic cricket. It would have been a win-win situation for the Board and the players,” Gaekwad said.
As far as the availability of the players, Gaekwad said: “Those players, who will not figure in the playing XI, should be released for the final. It would have given them quality practice before the Test series against Australia (February 22 onwards).
“The Indian team management might not want to disturb the combination after finding the winning momentum after a long time.”
Meanwhile, veteran Saurashtra batsman Sitanshu Kotak said Pujara and Jadeja will be missed. “We don’t have big names. We will miss Jadeja and Pujara, but it isn’t in our control. It is okay if India wants to win the ODI series against England 4-1 to be in a good frame of mind after having a tough time in the last couple of months. But if they want to prepare players for the Australia series, then this match could have been ideal practice for Pujara and Rahane.
However, any player would always prefer playing for the country over his state,” said Kotak.