Gautam ignored for opening game

Gautam ignored for opening game

CM Gautam. DH File Photo

Veteran wicketkeeper CM Gautam, whose performances have been on the wane since last season, was left out on Monday as the Karnataka State Cricket Association chose to pin their faith on the next generation with the announcement of the squad for the opening Ranji Trophy game against Vidarbha.

Gautam managed just 285 runs with two half-centuries in eight games last season while in 2016-17 he scored 385 runs in nine matches. Gautam’s place in the side was under the scanner when this season started and the 32-year-old did himself no favour by scoring just 54 runs in three games in the recently concluded Vijay Hazare Trophy. The writing was on the wall for Gautam then itself when he was dropped after three games.

Two wicket-keepers

The selectors have chosen talented BR Sharath and Sharath Srinivas as the two keepers but it looks like the former will make the cut for the opening game in Nagpur (Nov 12-15), as he has been on top in the pecking order.

“CM has done great service to Karnataka and we’ve not forgotten it,” said Raghuram Bhat, chairman of the senior selection committee. “He’s definitely in our plans for the season but we need to give youngsters a chance. (BR) Sharath played a tremendous innings today (62-ball 109 against Jharkhand in Col C K Nayudu U-23 tournament) and he deserves to be tried out at the senior level. Unless we give youngsters a chance, the team cannot move forward.”

With many star players set to miss the majority of the group phase owing to national commitments, Karnataka face a tricky ride. Bhat, however, allayed any fears.

“Karnataka has always had a great talent pool. The U-23 side has been doing well. We are extremely happy for all the guys out on national engagements. They have reached that level because they grabbed their chances and performed consistently. I have no doubt, guys from the U-23 side, who will be tried out this season, will shine. It’s a great chance for them to showcase their talent.”

Vinay to skipper

Meanwhile, R Vinay Kumar expectedly was retained the skipper. Karun Nair and R Samarth, both of whom have been selected in the India ‘A’ side for the second and third four-day matches against New Zeland ‘A’ later this month, will play the opening game.

The squad: R Vinay Kumar (captain), Karun Nair, R Samarth, D Nischal, Pavan Deshpande, KV Siddharth, Stuart Binny, Shishir Bhavane, BR Sharath (wk), Sharath Srinivas (wk), Shreyas Gopal, Abhimanyu Mithun, M Prasidh Krishna, J Suchith, Ronit More.

Coach: Yere Goud; Bowling coach: S Arvind.