Suresh Raina    AFP
Suresh Raina AFP

Suresh Raina has been named Uttar Pradesh captain for their Ranji Trophy 2017-18 opener against Railways. The 84th edition of India‘s premier domestic tournament will commence from October 6. Raina, who recently led India Red in Duleep Trophy final, will be on his toes both as captain and player. The swashbuckling left-hander has been out of favour from the national side since England T20Is in early 2017 due to poor fitness and erratic form. He will be eager to start his state’s campaign on a high.

On the other hand, BCCI has agreed to return to playing fixtures at home and away venues after the neutral venue trial met with lukewarm response with domestic captains last season. However, the knockout phase will be held at neutral venues. The other change from the previous season will be an increase in the number of groups from three to four, with each team playing six fixtures in the group stage. The top two teams from each group will progress to the quarterfinals.

Several Indian star players Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja and Murali Vijay will participate in opening round of the domestic tournament. Meanwhile, few players have also switched sides. Robin Uthappa will play for Saurashtra (from Karnataka) and Piyush Chawla will represent Gujarat (from Uttar Pradesh).

Gujarat is the defending champions after mauling Mumbai in 2016-17’s summit clash.

Squad: Suresh Raina (c), Shivam Chaudhary, Himanshu Asnora, Rinku Singh, Akshdeep Nath, Eklavya Dwivedi, Umang Sharma, Almas Shaukat, Saurabh Kumar, Zeeshan Ansari, Deependra Pandey, Ankit Rajput, Praveen Kumar, Kartik Tyagi, Imtiyaz Ahmad, Israr Azim and Dhruv Pratap Singh.