The Delhi and Districts Cricket Association has relived Rishab Pant of his captaincy duties and has appointed left-arm spinner Pradeep Sangwan as the new leader of the Delhi Ranji team. It comes as quite a surprise as the wicket-keeper batsman had an outstanding season and led the Delhi team till the finals of the Ranji Trophy where Rishabh Pant team lost to Vidarbha.
The news comes as a bizarre move as one of Delhi's young and brightest talents has been replaced by a player who last played a competitive match in May 2017 for the IPL (Indian Premier League) franchise Gujarat Lions and didn't make it to the Ranji team due to fitness. A lesser-known fact is that Sangwan has a dubious record of being the first Indian cricketers to test positive for banned substance. He has played 77 T20 matches where he has collected 71 wickets with an unflattering economy rate of 7.68.
In another significant move, senior players Unmukt Chand, Manan Sharma and Milind Kumar were dropped from the team. Unmukt is a former Delhi captain while Milind was vice-captain of Ranji team at the start of the season when Pant was on national duty (India A).
"We decided that Rishabh is struggling a bit with his form and we didn't want to burden him with captaincy. Pradeep Sangwan is fit and is the seniormost player in the set-up (save Gautam Gambhir) playing from 2008. So we thought that Sangwan should be made the captain," chairman of selectors Atul Wassan told PTI.
When asked why Gautam Gambhir, a two-time IPL winning captain was not given the job, Wassan reasoned: "We want Gautam to play the role of a mentor in this set-up. Also this was the format where we could have tested new players like Tejas Barokha and Lalit Yadav, who have been star performers for the U-23 side. Also new ball bowler Gaurav Kumar."
Bihar politician Pappu Yadav's son Sarthak Ranjan, who had not played a single match this season, is back in the mix and Wassan said that he had been picked after he watched him for two months.
"Sarthak had some mental issues and that's why did not play during the beginning of the season. Once he was mentally ready, we kept him on stand by for the U-23 squad. I monitored him for two months and now we have picked him as he is a fantastic talent," said Wassan.
Squad: Pradeep Sangwan (captain), Gautam Gambhir, Rishabh Pant, Himmat Singh, Dhruv Shorey, Lalit Yadav, Kshitij Sharma, Nitish Rana, Navdeep Saini, Pawan Negi, Kulwant Khejroliya, Khistij Sharma, Tejas Barokha, Subodh Bhati, Gaurav Kumar.
(With PTI Inputs)