U-19 WC stars Raj Bawa, Harnoor Pannu included in Chandigarh Ranji squad

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U-19 WC stars Raj Bawa, Harnoor Pannu included in Chandigarh Ranji squad
© Provided by The Times of India

CHANDIGARH: The UT Cricket Association (UTCA) selection committee on Tuesday decided to invest in the younger breed of cricketers by promoting the likes of Under-19 Cricket World Cup star Rajangad Bawa and Harnoor Singh Pannu for the upcoming Ranji Trophy, starting February 16.

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As reported by TOI on Monday, both Rajangad and Harnoor, who were part of India’s victorious Under-19 cricket World Cup campaign in the West Indies, were picked in the Manan Vohra-led 20-member Chandigarh squad. All-rounder Gurinder Singh has been named Vohra’s deputy for the tournament.

According to an UTCA insider, both Rajangad and Harnoor’s selection were on top of the selectors’ mind, and were backed by UTCA president Sanjay Tandon. The UTCA president had on Saturday proposed to the BCCI secretary Jay Shah to allow Under-19 players’ inclusion in the Ranji Trophy, to which the national cricket board had given the green signal.

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“Both the players had been phenomenal with their performances in the Under-19 WC. Their inclusion will bolster the side’s middle order batting, and build a healthy competition in the side. The team is a great mix of youth and the experienced players, which we hope will give Chandigarh the desired results,” the UTCA source told TOI.

Raj’s inclusion in the team will boost the Chandigarh middle order that has often been found wanting for runs in the longest format, while his medium pacers will add variety to the bowling attack. The young gun accumulated 252 runs and picked 9 wickets in the U-19 World Cup. Harnoor, meanwhile, scored 140 runs in the tournament, with one half century (88 against Ireland).

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Besides the duo, the Chandigarh side will also see the return of diminutive opener Arslan Khan and medium pacer Shresth Nirmohi to the longest format. Nirmohi was the pick of the Chandigarh bowling line-up when the Chandigarh boys last played the Ranji Trophy, a year ago. Arslan, meanwhile, has always been an impressive left-handed batting option, and has performed well in the limited opportunities.

The middle order will be manned by the likes of Shivam Bhambri, Ankit Kaushik, along with Amrit Lal Lubhana, Arjit Singh followed by stumper Jaskaran Singh Sohi and all-rounder Gurinder Singh. Singh will also be expected to lead the spin line-up along with the 20-year-old Yuvraj Chaudhary. Gaurav Puri could turn out to be a handy all-round option for the side.

Punjab import Sandeep Sharma, who has had a long association with Manan from their Under-19 days, will be expected to lead the pace bowling alongside the likes of Shresth, Gaurav Gambhir, Rajangad and Jagjit Singh.

Placed in Elite Group B, alongside Bengal, Hyderabad and Baroda, the Chandigarh team will depart for Cuttack on Thursday, and will be in mandatory quarantine till February 14. The team will undergo training sessions on February 15 and 16, followed by their first match against Hyderabad from February 17. Chandigarh will then take on Baroda from February 24 before locking horns with domestic giants Bengal from March 3.

The Ranji Trophy, India’s premier domestic competition returns after a year-long hiatus, and will be held over two phases, between February 10 and June 26, in nine venues across India. The first phase of the tournament – the league stage – will feature 38 teams and 57 matches, between February 10 and March 15. The knockouts will be held after the conclusion of IPL 2022, and will have seven matches between May 30 and June 26.

Squad: Manan Vohra (Captain), Gurinder Singh (VC), Arslan Khan, Shivam Bhambri, Ankit Kaushik, Amrit Lal Lubhana, Arjit Singh, Arpit Singh, Jagjit Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Yuvraj Chaudhary, Jaskaran Buttar, Harnoor Singh Pannu, Rajangad Singh Bawa, Sarul Kanwar, Gaurav Puri, Jaskaran Singh Sohi (WK), Shresth Nirmohi, Aman Bharti, Gaurav Gambhir

Support Staff: Rajiv Nayyar, Sandeep Singh Arora, Gurish Bhanot, Sagar Sudan, Saurabh Khanderwal

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