Rookie left-arm spinner Harmeet in Irani and Challenger squads
The national selectors today decided to reward rookie left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh for his fine performance in the U-19 World Cup by including him in both Rest of India squad for Irani Cup as well as India 'B' squad for the Challenger Trophy.
Mumbai spinner Harmeet Singh has been praised by none other than former Australian captain Ian Chappell who even went to the extent of comparing him with the legendary Bishan Singh Bedi.
Rest of India, led by Test specialist Chesteshwar Pujara, will take on Ranji Trophy champions Rajasthan in Bangalore from September 21-25.
While Pujara and Ajinkya Rahane would get quality practice ahead of long Test season, Ishant Sharma has also been named in the squad. He will get a chance to show the selectors that he is fit to be in the thick of things.
Young Harmeet may not get a chance in playing XI as more experienced Test star Pragyan Ojha is also there in the squad.
The selection of the Rest of India squad was on expected lines save the notable omission of last year's highest scorer in Ranji Trophy Robin Bist although likes of Parvinder Awana, Stuart Binny, Dinesh Karthik have been rewarded for good performance in domestic cricket. Murali Vijay has been brought back despite a poor last season as there is dearth quality openers in the country.
The India colts' World Cup triumph has certainly caught the selectors' attention as Harmeet's teammates Baba Aparajith and seamer Sandeep Sharma have also been included in the India B squad which will be led by Pujara.
With India's senior team away for World Twenty20 and the next batch in New Zealand for an 'A' tour, it was certainly a difficult job for the Krishnamachari Srikkanth-led selection panel to choose 28 players for the two teams as the third team will be Vijay Hazare Trophy champions Bengal.
The Challenger Trophy will also feature some of the out-of favour India bowlers like Praveen Kumar and Munaf Patel plying their trade along with discarded Tamil Nadu opener Murali Vijay and 'Challenger Veteran' Subramanium Badrinath who has been entrusted with the duty of leading India A.
The outgoing chairman's son Srikkanth Aniruddha, who had two ducks and two half centuries in the zonal one dayers against Kerala and Hyderabad has also been inducted in one of the two Challenger squads.
The Challenger Trophy will be held in Rajkot from September 29 to October 2.
Various Squads Irani Trophy:
Rest of India: Cheteshwar Pujara (Captain), Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane, Subramanium Badrinath, Dinesh Karthik, Wriddhiman Saha, Yusuf Pathan, Pragyan Ojha, Parvinder Awana, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav, Shikhar Dhawan, Stuart Binny, Abhimanyu Mithun, Harmeet Singh.
Challenger Series India 'A': Subramanium Badrinath (Captain), Ajinkya Rahane, Shikhar Dhawan, Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Ishant Sharma, Parvinder Awana, Abhimanyu Mithun, Pragyan Ojha, Iqbal Abdulla, Harshal Patel Udit Birla.
India 'B': Cheteshwar Pujara (captain), Murali Vijay, S Anirudh, Kedar Jadhav, Robin Bist, Stuart Binny, Ravindra Jadeja, Baba Aparajith, Praveen Kumar, Umesh Yadav, Munaf Patel, Harmeet Singh, Rohit Motwani, Sandeep Sharma.