With IPL auctions being held in December, the relevance has been questioned time and again with GM (Cricket Operations) Saba Karim coming under the scanner for faulty scheduling.
"For those, who have got an IPL deal, this tournament is like a dress rehearsal while there is no motivation for those who didn't make the cut. Earlier when Mushtaq Ali would be held before IPL auctions, the talent scouts would come to the ground. That's how Hardik Pandya was discovered," a senior BCCI official told PTI.
Ishant, who missed out on the final Test against Australia in Sydney owing to an injury is now fit and will be unleashing his thunderbolts against Jharkhand in Delhi's opening game at Vijaywada.
"Ishant is captaining the side. The newly married Nitish Rana is also available while Navdeep Saini had been rested as he has continuously played for India A against Lions," manager Shankar Saini said.
For Bengal, there first round opponents at Cuttack will be minnows Mizoram. It is expected to be a cakewalk but all eyes will be on Wriddhiman, who is coming back after nearly eight month lay-off, due to a career-threatening shoulder injury.
With India A regular Abhimanyu Easwaran and seasoned skipper Manoj Tiwary in the side, Bengal is expected to make a short work of the NE state.
The other marquee match on the first day will be Mumbai taking on Sikkim at Indore.
Sikkim has two solid professionals in Ranji Trophy's top run-getter Milind Kumar and Bipul Sharma but it will be Shaw, who will be grabbing eyeballs as he returns from an ankle fracture and subsequent rehabilitation that took around two and half months time.
First Published: February 20, 2019, 11:30 PM IST