Akshay Wadkar replaces Abhishek Gupta in Duleep Trophy squad

In June, the BCCI imposed a retrospective doping ban on Punjab wicketkeeper-batsman Abhishek Gupta, having confirmed he had tested positive for a prohibited substance during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in January. Gupta’s eight-month ban is set to expire on September 14.

On Monday, Gupta was included in the India Red squad for the forthcoming Duleep Trophy, which is scheduled to be played between August 17 and September 8.

Genuine oversight or plain ignorance? It could be either, but the selectors first named Gupta in the India A squad before another BCCI release arrived, close to seven hours later, confirming that they had replaced him with Vidarbha’s Akshay Wadkar.

“It was brought to notice by the BCCI Anti-Doping team that Mr. Abhishek Gupta who was initially added in the India Red squad is serving an 8-month ban for a doping violation,” the release said. “His ban is set to end on the 14th of September, 2018. The Senior Selection Committee has reached a consensus that Mr. Akshay Wadkar will be included in the India Red team as Mr. Gupta’s replacement.”

Wadkar, 24, has only played six first-class matches, all of them during Vidarbha’s run to the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy title. He has scored 395 runs at an average of 65.83, with three fifties and a hundred, which came in the final against Delhi.

The three squads for Duleep Trophy were part of the various selections finalised by the selectors in Kolkata on Monday. Also picked was the India A squad for two four-day games against South Africa A, the India A and India B squads for a quadrangular series that will also involve South Africa A and Australia A, and three squads for the Duleep Trophy – India Blue, India Red and India Green.

Gupta was handed a retrospective eight-month ban in June, after a urine sample he provided as part of the BCCI’s testing programme was found to contain Terbutaline, which is among the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) list of prohibited substances. This test was conducted on January 15, during the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.

Gupta had admitted to taking the banned substance, saying he did so inadvertently, as part of medication he had been prescribed. The BCCI was satisfied with Gupta’s explanation and back-dated the start of his eight-month ban to January 15.

Gupta, 27, made his senior debut for Punjab last October, and has since played six first-class, six List A and nine T20 games. He has scored 471 first-class runs at an average of 52.33, with two fifties and a double-hundred on debut against Himachal Pradesh.

IST 1040 The story was updated after the selectors named Wadkar as Gupta’s replacement

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