Ishant returns to cricket after illness

File photo – Ishant Sharma is set to play his first competitive match for two months © Getty Images

Ishant, Gambhir boost for Delhi

Delhi are set to welcome Ishant Sharma back into their line-up for the Ranji Trophy game against Karnataka at Eden Gardens on Thursday. It would be his first competitive match after a bout of chickengunya, which sidelined him for over two months. Gautam Gambhir, who was on India duty when Delhi played their first two matches of the season on October 6 and 13, will also return to captain the team.

Gambhir sceptical about neutral venues

The BCCI decided to play this season’s Ranji matches in neutral venues to make domestic cricket more competitive. But Gambhir wasn’t sold on the idea.

“Just because couple of teams made under-prepared tracks last season, all the other teams are made to suffer,” he told the Hindu. “Playing at home always gives you a positive feel. The domestic season should have been played like it always has been – home and away. Under the current set-up, Delhi will never play at the Feroze Shah Kotla. That, in my opinion is sad.”

Gambhir was open to a different kind of change, though. “I am a firm believer that you should have five-day games in Ranji cricket. That will give teams a more realistic chance of enforcing a result. If you can play five-day Tests, why not have it in Ranji games as well?”

Nair’s captaincy debut

With Vinay Kumar ruled out of the match with a calf-strain, Karun Nair, who was appointed vice-captain at the start of the season, will lead Karnataka for the first time.

“The management took the decision considering the future of the Karnataka cricket,” batting coach J Arunkumar told Deccan Herald. “In the next seven-eight years, we know who will be around and we felt Nair is a good choice. He has the potential to be a good captain. The seniors like Robin (Uthappa), Stuart (Binny) and Gautam (CM) were happy with the decision and they all offered to guide Nair in his new role, which is a positive sign.”

Pujara return buoys Saurashtra

Cheteshwar Pujara, who was the highest scorer in the three-Test series against New Zealand with 373 runs at 74.60, is set to play for Saurashtra in the third-round match against Maharashtra in Vizianagaram. Ravindra Jadeja, however, isn’t part of the 18-man squad.

“Having both Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja will be great, but even one of them, [this time Pujara], would be a boost for us,” Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak told Sportstar

Saurashtra are placed sixth on the Group B table after a 32-run loss in a low-scoring match against Odisha last week.

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