Friday, Jan 01, 2021 07:30 [IST]
Last Update: Friday, Jan 01, 2021 01:58 [IST]
GANGTOK,: The domestic cricket is all set to resume in the country beginning with the Twenty20 championship Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. And, with the three-week-long tournament scheduled to start from January 10, the state associations have started announcing their respective squads.
Joining the bandwagon, Sikkim Cricket Association, have announced a 20-member squad for the upcoming event with senior players returning to the shortest format of the game.
As many as five players have earned their first T20 call ups. Right-arm medium pacer Mohammed Ronak, who played for under-23 team last year, has earned a maiden call-up to the senior squad, while wicket-keeper batsman James Lepcha, left-arm orthodox spinner Rajiv Malay Darjee and all-rounder Mohammed Saptulla will also be touring in the senior team squad for the first time.
Left-arm spinner Ajay Thapa is the notable name in the spin department, which comprises relatively new faces.
Meanwhile, senior players Nilesh Lamichaney, Lee Yong Lepcha, Mendup Bhutia, Tashi Bhalla and Bhusan Subba who were not picked last year have made a return to the T20 side after their impressive performances in the recently concluded Khangchendzonga Shield.
Likewise, the team will be joined by experienced outstation players Robin Bist, Anureet Singh and Varun Sood who will be injecting experience into the young Sikkim side.
Medium-pacer Anureet Singh, a former Railways and Baroda player, has also represented India-A, India Red and Rest of India, besides playing in IPL for Kings XI Punjab, Kolkata Knight Riders and Rajasthan Royals. Anureet has the most impressive record among the three guest players having taken 249 wickets in 72 matches at an economy rate of just 2.73, including 16 five-wicket hauls, in First-class cricket so far.
Bist, a former Rajasthan captain, played a key role in the side's Ranji Trophy title wins in 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. The right-handed middle-order batsman has scored over 6,000 runs in First-class cricket with 15 centuries and 34 half-centuries and over 1,200 runs List-A matches.
"My target is to play well for Sikkim and ensure that the team fares well this season. It’s a young team, so we will work hard to ensure that things work out well," the seasoned Bist had earlier remarked.
The third guest player, Varun Sood, has previously played for Delhi in Indian domestic cricket. He is a slow left-arm orthodox bowler and left-handed batsman.
Apart from Robin Bist, the onus of leading the batting unit will be on Lamichaney, Ashish Thapa and Lee Yong, while the bowling unit has Anureet Singh and proven performers in Palzor Tamang and Padam Bahadur Limboo who claimed a six-wicket haul against Mizoram last season.
The list of players is, however, subject to change after the arrival of COVID-19 test result. “All the the players underwent mandatory Covid test today at Central Referral Hospital here. The result is expected to arrive on Friday morning,” said SiCA joint secretary Karma Lendup.
Twenty-one Sikkim probables had begun a preparatory camp on December 2 under the supervision of head coach Atul Gaikwad at Sikkim Cricket Ground, at Mining, near Rangpo.
The squad was finalized by selection committee headed by Gaikwad. Among them 17 are local players and three are outstation players.
Sikkim will kick-start their 2020-21 Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 campaign against Mizoram on January 11. They have been placed in Plate Group alongside Mizoram, Bihar, Nagaland, Chandigarh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. Sikkim will be playing all their five league-stage matches in Chennai.
Sikkim boasts of an experienced coaching setup with the arrival of Gaikwad, with whose expertise and skills the Himalayan state hopes to revive their fortunes after having a dismal 2019-20 season.
Sikkim is participating in the senior level of domestic cricket for the third year running after the SiCA was granted full membership of the BCCI in 2018. The highlanders have not exactly set the stadium on fire in the previous seasons, but have been competitive on occasions, particularly in the shorter formats of the game.
Wicket keepers: Bibek Diyali, James Lepcha
Batsmen: Robin Bist, Ashish Thapa, Nilesh Lamichaney, Lee Yong Lepcha
All-rounders: Palzor Tamang, Varun Sood, Dinesh Kumar Rai, Tashi Bhalla, Bhusan Subba, Mendup Bhutia, Mohammed Saptulla
Bowlers: Anureet Singh, Padam Bahadur Limboo, Mohammed Ronak, Pritam Nirala, Nitesh Kumar Gupta, Ajay Pradhan, Rajiv Malay Darjee