Focussed on ‘process’: West Zone captain Ajinkya Rahane starts comeback fight with Duleep Trophy
Ajinkya Rahane will not stray from his “process driven” tactics as he prepares to captain a star-studded West Zone against the North East in the opening Duleep Trophy game beginning on Thursday. Regaining what he has lost won’t be a simple battle.
The Duleep Trophy returns in its original zonal format to kick off the domestic cricket season in India with two quarterfinal matches.
The disparity between the two teams couldn’t have been greater given that West boasts a batting lineup that includes the skipper Rahane, the rogue Prithvi Shaw, the gifted Yashashvi Jaiswal, KKR captain Shreyas Iyer, and Rahul Tripathi, who was most recently with the Indian squad on tour in Zimbabwe.
However, attention will be on Rahane, who will undoubtedly make one more effort to rejoin the Test team after being dismissed earlier this year following a two-year dry spell.
“See, I believe in following my processes. Right now, my focus is on the Duleep Trophy and doing well for the West zone team and we will see what happens in future,’ Rahane said on the eve of the match.
He believes that the key is to play each match as it comes.
“Playing one game at a time…Coming back after injury, the focus is on what is in hand rather than the future. Looking forward to doing well,” he said in response to a question if he saw it as the first opportunity towards working for the comeback.
He praised the Duleep Trophy’s reintroduction to the zonal system and noted that it gave domestic players more opportunities.
“When I played (Duleep Trophy) last time in 2009-2010, it was in zonal format. When you play zonal (format), a lot of players get an opportunity. I always believe that you need to give importance to domestic cricket, Ranji and Duleep. It is great that all zones are participating and it is a great sign,” Rahane added.
In addition to the captain, Shaw and Jaiswal can amass large totals. Also making it difficult for the North-East bowlers to contain them.
Domestic powerhouse Jaydev Unadkat is a member of a potent bowling assault. That also includes Atit Seth of Baroda and Chirag Jani of Saurashtra.
The formidable West Zone team is anticipated to have too many weapons for its opponents. They are made up of players from the Plate teams and the North-Eastern zone.
Duleep Trophy schedule
QF: West Zone vs North East Zone (in Chennai), East Zone vs North Zone (in Puducherry).
West Zone: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Prithvi Shaw, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Shreyas Iyer, Hardik Tamore (wk), Shams Mulani, Tanush Kotian, Rahul Tripathi, Satyajeet Bachhav, Het Patel, Chintan Gaja, Jaydev Unadkat, Chirag Jani, Atit Sheth.
North East Zone: Al Bashid Muhammed, Ankur Malik, Techi Doria, Rongsen Jonathan, Khrievitso Kense, Kishan Lyngdoh, L Kishan Singha, Bishworjit Konthoujam, G Lalbiakvela, Techi Neri, Dippu Sangma, Rex Rajkumar, Ashish Thapa, Hokaito Zhimomi (captain), Bobby Zothansanga.
North, East zones in battle of equals
In Puducherry, East will compete against North in a matchup that on paper seems to fairly matched. The men from the East are led by the knowledgeable Manoj Tiwary. He has a combination of youth and experience at his disposal.
Tiwari, a veteran of many clashes, will attempt to take the initiative in the competition. That, after a three-year hiatus, is returning to the home arena.
Abhimanyu Easwaran, a top-order batsman, will missed by the team. Because he is playing for India ‘A’ against New Zealand. But they still have the firepower to amass a large total and a strong bowling attack.
On the other side, Yash Dhull, who led the India team to victory at the U-19 World Cup earlier this year. He is part of the North team, which is led by Mandeep Singh. Following a stellar start to his first-class career, Dhull’s performances will closely scrutinised.
There are many seasoned players on the team. And also the bowling attack will likely be led by Navdeep Saini and Siddharth Kaul.
East Zone: Manoj Tiwary (captain), Virat Singh (vice-captain), Nazim Siddique, Sudip Kumar Gharami, Shantanu Mishra, Anustup Majumdar, Riyan Parag, Kumar Kushagra, Abishek Porel (wk), Shahbaz Ahmed, Shahbaz Nadeem, Ishan Porel, Akash Deep, Mukhtar Hussain, Mani Shankar Murasingh.
North Zone: Yash Dhull, Dhruv Shorey, Manan Vohra, Mandeep Singh (captain), Himanshu Rana, Akash Vashisht, Anmol Malhotra, Mayank Dagar, Pulkit Narang, Navdeep Saini, Siddharth Kaul, Jagjit Singh, Nishant Sindhu, Qamran Iqbal, Vikas Mishra.