The BCCI announced the India Blue and India Red squads for the Deodhar Trophy, which will be played between March 25 and 29 in Visakhapatnam. Tamil Nadu, who won the Vijay Hazare Trophy, defeating Bengal in the final, will be the third team in the competition.
Rohit Sharma has been appointed as the skipper of India Blue, while wicketkeeper-batsman Parthiv Patel will lead India Red. Shikhar Dhawan, Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey, who are expected to be a part of the ICC Champions Trophy India squad, will be keen to score runs in the Deodhar Trophy as it is the only 50-over competition before the ICC event.
Other fringe players like Mayank Agarwal, Axar Patel, Shreyas Iyer and Rishabh Pant will also want to make an impression and send a timely reminder of their ability to the selectors.
More importantly, the selectors will be looking closely at Rohit, who will have to prove his fitness in the competition. The India opener has not played any international cricket in 2017, as he suffered a thigh injury during the ODI series against New Zealand last year.
Rohit has not been in the best of form since his return to domestic cricket. The stylish right-hander scored a total of 20 runs in his two innings for Mumbai during the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Even if the batsman fails in the Deodhar Trophy, Rohit should be India's number one opener in the Champions Trophy as he has proved to be a match-winner for India with the bat in the past.
Also, considering India looked below par at the top of the order in the ODI series against England, Rohit should walk into the squad. Virat Kohli's team used various openers like KL Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan and Ajinkya Rahane, but it did not work well.
With IPL 2017 around the corner too, Mumbai Indians captain Rohit can gradually get back to his elements in the competition and head into the Champions Trophy with runs under his belt.
Squads: India Blue: Rohit Sharma (c), Mandeep Singh, Shreyas Iyer, Ambati Rayudu, Manoj Tiwary, Rishabh Pant (w), Deepak Hooda, Harbhajan Singh, Krunal Pandya, Shahbaz Nadeem, Siddarth Kaul, Shardul Thakur, Prasidh Krishna, Pankaj Rao
India Red: Parthiv Patel (c & w), Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey, Mayank Agarwal, Kedar Jadhav, Ishank Jaggi, Gurkeerat Mann, Axar Patel, Akshay Karnewar, Ashok Dinda, Kulwant Khejroliya, Dhawal Kulkarni, Govinda Poddar.
Tamil Nadu Squad: Vijay Shankar (c), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ganga Sridhar Raju, B. Indrajith, L. Suryapprakash, M. Kaushik Gandhi, N. Jagadeesan, J. Kousik, M. Mohammed, W Anthony Dhas, R. Rohit, Rahil S Shah, M. Ashwin, R. Sai Kishore, M.S. Washington Sundar