Wriddhiman Saha sticks to ‘no’ as keeper Shakir Gandhi is added to Bengal squad; no replacement for Mohammad Shami

Uncapped wicketkeeper-batter Shakir Habib Gandhi has been called up to the Bengal squad after Wriddhiman Saha was left unconvinced to reunite with his state team, Sportskeeda has reliably learnt. However, there won’t be any replacement for ace pacer Mohammad Shami, who has been advised rest by the BCCI.

A day after Saha was picked in the 22-man squad for the Ranji knockouts starting June 6, the veteran keeper-bat expressed his unwillingness to play for Bengal. The 37-year-old went as far as claiming a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the Cricket Association of Bengal (CAB) to represent other states.

Wriddhiman Saha, who recently won the IPL with the Gujarat Titans (GT), felt let down by his state association after an office-bearer questioned his commitment to the state following his withdrawal from the league stage of this year’s Ranji Trophy. It coincided with a time when the Indian team management implicitly showed him the door. He also became embroiled in a baseless WhatsApp controversy with a journalist.

President Avishek Dalmiya had rounds of talks with Saha, trying to change his mind, but to no avail. While it is clear he won’t partake in this year’s Ranji Trophy, it remains to be seen if he decides to stay back for the subsequent domestic season. Bengal will take on Jharkhand in the quarterfinal at the Just Cricket Academy Ground in Bengaluru.

Gandhi was part of the squad which registered three consecutive outright wins in the league stage in February-March this year. The 22-year-old, though, couldn’t make the cut for the second phase as senior pros Saha and Shami were included. The right-hander will be a second-choice pick behind 19-year-old Abishek Porel, who scored 185 runs at an average of 37 in the three games so far.

Mohammad Shami to spend downtime before England tour

Bengal practise at KSCA Stadium ahead of the quarterfinal tie against Jharkhand [Credits: CAB]
Bengal practise at KSCA Stadium ahead of the quarterfinal tie against Jharkhand [Credits: CAB]

Shami, who was also part of the IPL-winning GT side, has been asked to go on a break by the BCCI. The board wants the 31-year-old quick to recharge his batteries before the England tour starting July 1. He has not been picked for the forthcoming five-match T20I series versus South Africa.

It, however, won’t be a big miss as Abhimanyu Easwaran has a triumvirate of fast bowlers – Ishan Porel, Akash Deep, Mukesh Kumar – up his sleeve. Shami’s younger brother, Md Kaif, is also part of the squad.

Full Bengal squad for 2021/22 Ranji Trophy knockouts: Abhimanyu Easwaran (c), Manoj Tiwary, Anustup Majumdar, Sudip Chatterjee, Shahbaz Ahmed, Abhishek Kumar Raman, Writtick Chatterjee, Sayan Shekhar Mandal, Mukesh Kumar, Akash Deep, Ishan Porel, Koushik Ghosh, Ritwik Roy Chowdhury, Pradipta Pramanik, Karan Lal, Nilkantha Das, Sudip Kumar Gharami, Abishek Porel, Md Kaif, Ankit Mishra, Shakir Habib Gandhi

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