After two years of curtailed seasons, the Indian domestic cricket season is staring at a full season this year, with the Duleep Trophy returning to its age-old avatar of zonal format with West Zone taking on North East Zone in the first game, starting Thursday. Things might seem drastically easy for the star-studded West Zone, with North East Zone, that is making its appearance for the first time in the tournament after the teams were inducted for the first time in 2018.
The West Zone line-up have the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Prithvi Shaw, Yashashvi Jaiswal, Shreyas Iyer and Rahul Tripathi and a lot of things are at stake for West Zone skipper Rahane, who is aiming to make a Test comeback after losing his spot in the side for the England tour. However, that challenge will not deviate the senior batter from his "process driven" methods.
"See, I believe in following my processes. Right now, my focus is on the Duleep Trophy and doing well for the West zone team and we will see what happens in future,' Rahane said on the eve of the match, reported PTI.
"Playing one game at a time...Coming back after injury, the focus is on what is in hand rather than the future. Looking forward to doing well," he said in response to a question if he saw it as the first opportunity towards working for the comeback.
The BCCI decided to move back to the Zonal format for the Duleep Trophy after flirting with three different teams, selected by the national selection committee. The idea was in line with the Lodha committee recommendations but with a change in stance since, the board decided to give the Zonal format its due back.
"When I played (Duleep Trophy) last time in 2009-2010, it was in zonal format. When you play zonal (format), a lot of players get an opportunity. I always believe that you need to give importance to domestic cricket, Ranji and Duleep. It is great that all zones are participating and it is a great sign," Rahane added.
Along with the skipper, Shaw and Jaiswal can rack up big scores and the North-East bowlers would be hard pressed to stop them. Domestic stalwart Jaydev Unadkat forms part of a strong bowling attack that also comprises Baroda pacer Atit Seth and Saurashtra's Chirag Jani.