Abhimanyu Easwaran, who scored 798 runs in the Ranji season, missed out as he was recovering from typhoid. The other surprising omission is Kerala all-rounder Jalaj Saxena, who tops the wicket charts with 50 wickets.
Dhull could score only 270 runs in 10 innings in the 2022-23 Ranji Trophy, while Kunnumal could score 203 runs in nine innings. Vihari has had a poor season, scoring 490 runs in 14 innings for Andhra, but the captaincy is perhaps another sign of him still being in the mix as far as backup for the national team is concerned.
Where Sarfaraz bats in the XI could be an indication of what kind of role the senior selectors see him playing in the near future. In Mumbai, he has been at No. 5 in the last three seasons. Sai Sudarshan, meanwhile, is set to join the team straight away after playing county cricket for the first time with Surrey.
ROI’s bowling department will be led by Navdeep Saini while Karnataka’s Vidavatha Kawerappa, who had a stellar Duleep Trophy performance with his 30 wickets in the Ranji season, is expected to share the new ball. Uttar Pradesh’s Saurabh Kumar and Shams Mulani are the two frontline spinners with the second-highest wicket-takers in Ranji Trophy 2022-23 (46 wickets), with Delhi’s Pulkit Narang also making a mark. Yash Dayal brings variety in left arm pace and can play as a third fast bowler.
Bengal fast bowler Akash Deep has been included in the squad, but he will not attend the match as he is with the Indian team at the Asian Games in Hangzhou. Initially not selected there, he was later named as a replacement for the injured Shivam Mavi.
Hosts Saurashtra have also named a strong team including all their regular players. Cheteshwar Pujara and captain Jaydev Unadkat are coming off a regular diet of red-ball cricket in the County Championship in England. At 37, Sheldon Jackson, the second highest run-scorer in the last Ranji season, remains a pillar in the middle order along with Pujara, Arpit Vasavada.
Saurashtra earned the right to play the game after winning their second Ranji Trophy title by defeating Bengal in Kolkata earlier this year.
Rest of India: Hanuma Vihari (captain), KS Bharat, Mayank Agarwal, Yash Dhull, Shams Mulani, Sai Sudarshan, Sarfaraz Khan, Pulkit Narang, Saurabh Kumar, Yash Dayal, Navdeep Saini, Vidwath Kawerappa, Akash Deep, Rohan Kunnumal, Dhruv Jurel.
Saurashtra: Jaydev Unadkat (captain), Cheteshwar Pujara, Sheldon Jackson, Arpit Vasavada, Harvik Desai, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Prerak Mankad, Chirag Jani, Jai Gohil, Parth Bhutt, Vishwarajsingh Jadeja, Samarth Vyas, Yuvrajsingh Dodiya, Kushang Patel, Snell Patel, Devang Karamta. .
Shashank Kishore is senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo