In a surprising move, Mumbai selectors on Saturday dropped middle-order batsman Vinit Indulkar for the first two Ranji Trophy matches.
The selection committee comprising Dilip Vengsarkar (chairman), Milind Rege, Abey Kuruvilla, Umesh Kulkarni and Sanjay Patil met at the Mumbai Cricket Association’s (MCA) office here. Coach Pravin Amre and newly-appointed captain Amol Muzumdar also attended the meeting.
The selectors preferred youngsters like southpaw Hiken Shah and promising Rohit Sharma over Indulkar, who was part of the West Zone squad for the Duleep Trophy, for the away matches against Bengal (at Kolkata, December 1 to 4) and Punjab (at Mohali, December 9 to 12).
“We opted to go for the men in form,” said Rege, who also convened the meeting in absence of MCA secretary Lalchand Rajput. “Vinit needs to get back into runs.”
Apart from Indulkar, medium-fast bowler Avishkar Salvi, recuperating from a lower back problem, was not considered as he was not ‘match fit’. “The physio’s report said he is 80 per cent fit,” said Rege. “He will be reassessed after the first two matches.”
As expected, opener Vinayak Mane made a comeback after missing almost the whole of last season due to an elbow injury.
Besides Shah and Sharma, fast bowlers Moondeep Mungela and Kshemal Waingankar are the other two new faces in the 15-man squad. All the four newcomers, along with Kukreja, will represent the Mumbai under-22 team against Maharashtra in a CK Nayudu Trophy tie at Karad from Sunday.
Rege said they have tried to ‘balance’ the squad with a blend of experienced players and youngsters.
“We want everyone to compete for each place in the side,” Rege said. “This would also make the team a better unit.”
Amol Muzumdar (capt.), Nilesh Kulkarni, Ramesh Powar, Sahil Kukreja, Nishit Shetty, Bhavin Thakkar, Rohit Sharma, Hiken Shah, Vinayak Mane, Vinayak Samant (wk), Rajesh Verma, Wilkin Mota, Kshemal Waingankar, Moondeep Mungela, Swapnil Hazare.
Coach: Pravin Amre; Trainer: Amogh Pandit; Physio: Dr Deepak Kachalia.