After a gruelling selection meeting that began at 4 p.m. and ended at 7.30 p.m., the Tamil Nadu selectors, on Monday, named all-rounder Vijay Shankar as the Ranji Trophy captain for the season. Top order batsman B. Aparajith will be his deputy.
The chairman of the selection panel, M. Senthilnathan, told Sportstar, “We are looking to take the team forward with two youngsters at the helm.”
This was also a meeting where coach D. Vasu asked for R. Ashwin as skipper and Murali Vijay as vice-captain; both being vastly experienced at the international level.
However, the selectors felt since Ashwin would leave for the Test series in New Zealand and thus miss the knock-out phase if Tamil Nadu qualified, the team was better off with one captain for the entire season.
Senthilnathan said, “We respect Vasu’s views and acknowledge the enormous contribution of R. Ashwin but we held the view that it would be difficult to replace the captain at the knock-out stage.”
On M. Vijay, Senthilnathan observed, “This is an important season for him. He is keen on an India comeback and needs big runs in Ranji Trophy. We do not want to burden him with captaincy.”
Senthil felt Shankar had already been a winning captain in white ball cricket. “Tamil Nadu has won the Vijay Hazare and the Deodhar Trophy under him. He is quietly efficient. He is experienced in Ranji Trophy as well and has produced big knocks, taken vital wickets.”
About the squad for the first two matches, both at home against Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh, Senthil said, “We have a balanced team. M. Siddharth is a young left-arm spinner. Shahrukh Khan has promise. Then there is K. Mukunth, a young top order batsman.”
Interestingly, leg-spinner M. Ashwin is also in the mix.
“We expect the captain and his team to do well,” Senthil concluded.
Washington Sundar, away on India duty, will join the team for the second match and K. Mukunth will be released from the squad.
The squad (first two matches): Vijay Shankar (captain), B. Aparajith, (vice-captain), M. Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Dinesh Karthik (wk), N. Jagadeesan (wk), R. Ashwin, Sai Kishore, T. Natarajan, K. Vignesh, Abhishek Tanwar, M. Ashwin, M. Siddharth, Shahrukh Khan, K. Mukunth.