Veteran opener Gautam Gambhir on Friday stepped down from Delhi Ranji team's captaincy and speedster Ishant Sharma was named his replacement ahead of the upcoming Ranji Trophy season. The 36-year-old Gambhir, who had captained Delhi in the Ranji Trophy for the past four seasons, expressed his desire to continue as a player.
"Yes, Gambhir wrote a letter addressed to DDCA administrator Vikramajit Sen, selection committee chairman Atul Wassan and Cricket Affairs Committee (CAC) chairman Madan Lal intimating them about his decision. He made it clear that time is right for someone else to take over as he wants to play purely as a player," a senior DDCA official on condition of anonymity told PTI.
Gambhir was removed from captaincy during the Vijay Hazare Trophy last season and young Rishabh Pant was given the responsibility.
Delhi made an inglorious exit from the group league and their campaign was marred by a bitter exchange of words between Gambhir and coach KP Bhaskar.
Gambhir was reprimanded by a disciplinary committee and was handed a suspended sentence of four games.
With Bhaskar being retained as coach despite non-performance, it was inevitable that Gambhir would have had to make his way as the duo apparently were never on the same page with regards to team policies.
Asked about Ishant's selection, the official said: "Ishant has played 77 Test matches and now that he is unlikely to be selected for limited overs matches, he will be available for all group league games.
"Rishabh Pant will have his India A commitments and Unmukt Chand have had too many disastrous seasons to be even considered for a leadership role."
The team did have a few surprises including rookie batsman Kunal Chandela selected purely on the basis of a triple hundred for North Zone University in the Vizzy Trophy.
Incidentally, Chandela had played for Delhi U-23 last season and was a complete flop in the CK Nayudu Trophy before being dropped.
Against Punjab, he scored 42 and 7 while against Madhya Pradesh scored a duck.
"How can a boy who did not do well at the U-23 level be picked for Ranji Trophy? On what basis? Vizzy Trophy cannot be a parameter," fumed a senior DDCA official.
Left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra also made a comeback replacing Varun Sood. With no quality off-break bowlers on the horizon, Pulkit Narang was persisted with by the selection committee.
Ishant Sharma (C), Gautam Gambhir, Unmukt Chand, Nitish Rana, Dhruv Shorey, Milind Kumar, Himmat Singh, Kunal Chandela, Rishabh Pant (WK), Manan Sharma, Vikas Sharma, Pulkit Narang, Navdeep Saini,Vikas Tokas, Kulwant Khejroliya.
(With PTI Inputs)