Panchal, Iyer, Sarfaraz drafted into West Zone squad

Priyank Panchal plays a pull
September 20, 2022

Priyank Panchal, Shreyas Iyer and Sarfaraz Khan have been drafted into the Ajinkya Rahane-led West Zone squad for the Duleep Trophy final against South Zone in Coimbatore starting Wednesday.

Panchal and Sarfaraz are joining the camp from Bengaluru, where they were part of the India A squad that beat New Zealand A 1-0 in a series of three unofficial Tests. Their addition comes on the back of Prithvi Shaw and Rahul Tripathi being called up to join the A team for the white-ball leg of the same tour in Chennai starting Thursday.

Iyer, meanwhile, is returning from a short break. He missed the semi-final against Central Zone as he was at the National Cricket Academy for a regular fitness assessment, prior to being named as one of the stand-by players in India's T20 World Cup squad. He also missed the quarter-final against Northeast as he was with India's Asia Cup contingent in UAE, also as a reserve player.

Panchal, India A's red-ball captain, finished the series with two half-centuries and 201 runs overall in four innings. Sarfaraz, the 2021-22 Ranji season's highest run-getter, had a slightly milder series, returning 99 runs in three innings.

Meanwhile, the upcoming red-ball season could be crucial for Iyer, as he looks to turnaround his career that appears to have hit a rough patch. While he remains an incumbent in the Test team, his apparent struggles with the short ball have come under increased scrutiny. He has also, over the past three months, fallen behind in the pecking order as far as India's first XI goes in white-ball cricket.

Iyer's most-recent appearance for India was in the Caribbean in July-August, where he hit three half-centuries in as many ODIs, and one half-century in three T20I knocks. After the Duleep final, he is likely to link up with India's World Cup bound squad. Unlike at the Asia Cup, where only one of the three reserves were on tour, all reserve players will be part of the Australia-bound contingent.

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