Ranji Trophy 2018-19 champions Vidarbha will take on Ajinkya Rahane led Rest of India in the Irani Trophy match starting on Tuesday at the VCA stadium.
Irani Cup brings back memorable memories for one Vidarbha batsman — Wasim Jaffer. The veteran Mumbai opener shifted base to Nagpur from Mumbai last season didn’t have a great season in Ranji Trophy. However, all of that changed in Irani Cup last year after Vidharbha won the Ranji Trophy for the first time in 2018. Jaffer scored a gigantic 286 as the team posted 800/7 declared against Rest of India and won the game handsomely.
Wasim Jaffer will turn 41 in the course of the match. The veteran piled up over 1,000 runs as Vidarbha retained their Ranji Trophy with a win over Saurashtra in final last week. The right-hander is expected to take a call on his long and illustrious career at the end of the match.
The Nagpur based side was the first team to snatch Rest of India’s successive Irani Cup titles last year and will look to repeat the same when the two sides face off at Jamtha in Nagpur. Apart from Jaffer, skipper Faiz Fazal had a fabulous season with 752 runs while young Akshay Wadkar aggregated up 725 runs at an average of over 60 with three centuries.
Vidharba’s bowling is also in good hands. Umesh Yadav was sensational in the Ranji quarterfinals and semifinals, picking up 21 wickets in these two games. The Irani Trophy wicket will definitely favour the spinners and Aditya Sarwate, Akshay Wakhare, and Akshay Karnewar should be more than a handful for the Rest of India.
The Rest of India squad led Ajinkya Rahane also features some new Indian Test team entries – Mayank Agarwal and Hanuma Vihari. Agarwal and Vihari were outstanding in India’s series against Australia where India created history being the first Asian side to beat Australia in Australia.
The side also includes the likes of Jharkhand wicketkeeper-batsman Ishan Kishan, Mumbai skipper Shreyas Iyer, and Punjab opener Anmolpreet Singh all of whom are regular India A players.
Rest of India have enough slow bowlers as per the conditions led by Saurashtra left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja who picked up over 50 wickets in Ranji Trophy this year. Jadeja will have Karnataka’s off-spinning all-rounder Krishnappa Gowtham apart from Karnataka’s Ronit More, Rahul Chahar of Rajasthan and Kerala’s Sandeep Warrier.
If Vidarbha wins, it will be become the first team to defend their Irani Cup title since Karnataka (2013-14 and 2014-15) managed five seasons back.
Rest of India: Ajinkya Rahane (C), Mayank 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.