A day after facing fresh criticism over omitting pace bowler Ishant Sharma from the Ranji squad, the Delhi and District Cricket Association (DDCA) announced on Thursday that he has been included.
A brief statement by DDCA sports secretary, Sunil Dev, said the India spearhead will be available for the second game, against Vidarbha at home from October 8. The DDCA attempt at a face-saver came after Sharma, who is in the India camp in Bangalore, was shockingly left out with chief selector, Vinay Lamba, saying that Sharma did not respond to his query if he was available to play.
Sharma, who has not been selected for the limited-overs part of the South Africa series can play domestic cricket until the second week of November as he is serving a one-game ban and will not feature in the first Test, starting in Mohali on November 5.
The Ranji matches would be a perfect way to build-up before returning for the second Test as Sharma is in excellent form, after incisive bowling fetched him 13 wickets and helped India win the Sri Lanka series 2-1. With an ageing bowling lineup, many of whom haven’t done well over the last few seasons, Sharma’s inclusion was crucial for a team that has not excelled in the Ranji competition, and fell in the quarters last season.
The selectors courted further controversy by leaving out seasoned all-rounder Rajat Bhatia. The 35-year-old was left fuming after the Delhi selectors or administrators didn’t show the courtesy of informing him that he won’t be selected before the transfer window closed. Skipper Gautam Gambhir has said the player won’t make the playing XI and hence was not included.
Bhatia, though, lashed out DDCA officials. “I turned up at the nets yesterday only to find that hardly anything was in place a week before the first Ranji game. And later in the day, I found out that I was dropped from the team. I have not seen a worse time (in Delhi cricket) than this,” Bhatia told PTI on Thursday.
“We all know how DDCA works. The association is in a mess. They will only think about the players when they get time off from chasing proxy votes or serving their own interest or fighting over who is going to be in the sports committee.”
(With inputs from agencies)