Mohali: In a big setback for North Zone ahead of the Duleep Trophy semi-final against Central Zone, captain Harbhajan Singh has been forced to sit out due to viral fever as Gautam Gambhir will step in as the leader, here on Wednesday.
Out-of-favour Indian off-spinner, Harbhajan, is heartbroken to sit out due to health issues.
"I am disappointed at not being able to participate in the all-important match. I have not been keeping well for the last three days, but hopefully will be fit for the final if we win," Harbhajan told PTI. (Also read: Upbeat East Zone take on South)
Harbhajan, who last played a Test for India in March 2013 against Australia, led a successful campaign last year when North shared the trophy with South Zone after the final in Kochi was virtually washed out.
All eyes will now be on Gambhir and Virender Sehwag, as the duo will look to impress the selectors ahead of the 2015 World Cup.
Gambhir, who was recently appointed captain of the Delhi team for the upcoming Vijay Hazare one-day tournament, is keen to make a comeback after a not-so-good showing in the Test series in England this year.
Sehwag, 36, who also made his last India appearance in March 2013 alongwith Bhajji against Australia, will also be hoping to make each performance count.
Apart from the Delhi duo, Yuvraj Singh will also be looking to make impression in the all-important game.
The team also boasts of two Jammu and Kashmir players in medium-pacer Samiullah Beigh and off-spinner Parvez Rasool, who has represented the national side in one ODI against Bangladesh in June this year.
The Central Zone team will also be no pushovers with young Piyush Chawla leading the pack.
The 25-year-old leg-spinner is also looking to make his return to the big stage after the Uttar Pradesh player last represented India in 2012.
With Piyush, upcoming chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and leg-spinner Karn Sharma forming the spin trio, the Central bowling attack also comprises medium-pacer Pankaj Singh and Railways pacer Anureet Singh among the many talents.
On the batting front, Faiz Fazal, Naman Ojha, Arindam Ghosh and Ashok Menaria will form the crux.
North Zone - Gautam Gambhir (c), Parvinder Awana, Samiullah Beigh, Yuzvendra Chahal, Rishi Dhawan, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Jiwanjot Singh, Mandeep Singh, Rajat Paliwal, Parvez Rasool, Harshal Patel, Nitin Saini (wk), Yuvraj Singh,Virender Sehwag.
Central Zone - Piyush Chawla (c), Mahesh Rawat, Amit Mishra, Anureet Singh, Robin Bist, Faiz Fazal, Arindam Ghosh, Kuldeep Yadav, Ashok Menaria, Naman Ojha (wk), Ishwar Pandey Pankaj Singh, Shalabh Srivastava, Jalaj Saxena,Karn Sharma.