Injured Zaheer Khan will not play the Ranji Trophy final against Saurashtra at the Wankhede from January 26 to 30 as he has still not recovered from the calf injury he sustained in the Group ‘A’ match against Gujarat in the last week of December.
“Zaheer is not playing the final. He is still undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Association (Bangalore). He said he will start running from tomorrow (Tuesday),” confirmed Mumbai Cricket Association joint secretary Nitin Dalal.
Zaheer has played three Ranji matches this season, picking up nine wickets, including a five-for against Madhya Pradesh in Indore. He led Mumbai against Gujarat in Ajit Agarkar’s absence. The Mumbai selectors will meet on Wednesday to name the squad.
Meanwhile, both the MCA and Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA) have requested the Indian team to release their star players, Rohit Sharma and Cheteshwar Pujara, for the final. “We have sent a letter today (Monday) to the Indian team management asking for Rohit to be released only if he is not going to figure in the playing XI,” Dalal said.
SCA secretary Niranjan Shah told this paper that the association made a similar request. “They said they would look at it after the fourth ODI (in Mohali on January 23),” Shah said. The Ranji final starts on January 26, a day before the fifth and final ODI against England at Dharamsala.
Both Rohit and Pujara have played crucial roles for their respective teams. The Mumbaikar scored 712 runs at 71.20 with three hundreds and two fifties from six matches. Pujara, who played in three matches, amassed 629 runs at 125.80 with two big centuries: 203* vs Madhya Pradesh in the league stage and 352 against Karnataka in the quarterfinal. Whether Pujara is released or not, Saurashtra “will have to fight”, as Shah put it.
According to the reports the BCCI won’t release any of the players.
Wankhede will not host Women’s World Cup
With the Wankhede hosting the Ranji final as per Mumbai Cricket Association’s request, the ICC Women’s World Cup games have been shifted to other venues in the city. The ground will not host a single Women’s World Cup game.
The inaugural match — India vs West Indies — was to be held at the Wankhede, besides a few other games. Now, they will be played at the Brabourne Stadium. Bandra-Kurla Complex and the MIG Club are the other venues.
The board’s general manager of cricket development Ratnakar Shetty said the shift in venues was done in consultation with the International Cricket Council. “The ICC should not have any problem with the change in venues. Initially, Mumbai was to host all the ties. Now, with the Group ‘B’ matches (involving Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa) having been shifted to Odisha, some of the other grounds are available. Anyway, we are holding the matches in equally good, ICC-approved venues. Also, CCI is scheduled to host the final,” Shetty said.