Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are among the 14 internationals named in India Blue and India Red squads for the Deodhar Trophy. © BCCI

Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan are among the 14 internationals named in India Blue and India Red squads for the Deodhar Trophy. © BCCI

Rohit Sharma and Parthiv Patel will lead India Blue and India Red respectively in the three-team 50-over Deodhar Trophy, which will be played at the Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam from March 25 to 29. Tamil Nadu, who beat Bengal by 37 runs in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final in Delhi on Monday (March 20), are the third team.

The national selectors have also included Shikhar Dhawan in Parthiv’s team. It will be an important series for Dhawan to re-establish his stature since last playing for India in the second One-Day International against England in Cuttack in January. Dhawan’s last significant knock came nine matches before when he made his second consecutive half-century for North Zone in the inter-zonal Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 tournament.

Rohit injured his right thigh while making 70 for India against New Zealand in the Visakhapatnam ODI last October. He had surgery on his right upper quadriceps tendon in early November in London, and was under rehabilitation after that at the National Cricket Academy in Bangalore. He missed the Test and limited-overs series against England, the one-off Test against Bangladesh and the ongoing Test series against Australia.

He returned to competitive cricket with scores of 16 and 4 for Mumbai against Andhra and Goa in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. His fitness and form will be under scrutiny as India prepare to defend the Champions Trophy in England in June. After Deodhar Trophy, Rohit will lead Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League before the selectors name the squad for the Champions Trophy.

Rohit’s team includes five other internationals in Harbhajan Singh, who picked up 4 for 33 for Punjab against Haryana in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Mandeep Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary and Rishabh Pant.

While Rayudu too returned from injury after a big gap for the practice List A game between India A and England, Tiwary, the Bengal captain, was instrumental in taking his team to the Vijay Hazare Trophy final with 378 runs in nine matches.

Shreyas Iyer will be expected to be a part of the batting unit, which also includes Krunal Pandya and Deepak Hooda. The two made 668 runs between them to take Baroda to the semifinal where they lost to the eventual champions.
 
Chhattisgarh’s Pankaj Rao and Karnataka’s Prasidh Krishna, who trained under Jeff Thompson at Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence in Brisbane a few months ago, have caught the attention of the national selectors for the first time, as have Kulwant Khejroliya (Rajasthan) and Govinda Poddar (Odisha), both of whom are a part of the India Red squad.

Parthiv, who made a match-winning century for Gujarat in the 2015-16 Vijay Hazare Trophy final, has had a memorable season. Apart from helping Gujarat win the Ranji Trophy for the first time, he made an impressive comeback into the Test team during the series against England.

Parthiv’s team also includes Kedar Jadhav, who impressed during the ODI series win against England, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Ashok Dinda, Gurkeerat Singh Mann and Dhawal Kulkarni, who like Rohit returned to competitive cricket recently after recovering from a hamstring injury. They also have with them Ishank Jaggi, who has had a superlative domestic season and was picked up by Kolkata Knight Riders in the recent auctions after his name was included in the draft at the last minute.

The Deodhar Trophy, which was a zonal tournament, was changed to its current format last season to make it more relevant. Faiz Fazal’s century had helped India A beat India B by 87 runs in the final.  

Squads:

India Blue: Rohit Sharma (capt), Mandeep Singh, Shreyas Iyer, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Rishabh Pant (wk), Deepak Hooda, Harbhajan Singh, Krunal Pandya, Shahbaz Nadeem, Siddarth Kaul, Shardul Thakur, Prasidh Krishna, Pankaj Rao.

India Red: Parthiv Patel (capt and wk), Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey, Mayank Agarwal, Kedar Jadhav, Ishank Jaggi, Gurkeerat Mann, Axar Patel, Akshay Karnewar, Ashok Dinda, Kulwant Khejroliya, Dhawal Kulkarni, Govinda Poddar.