Buoyant Maharashtra looks to cement QF berth

The battle for the final quarterfinal berth in Group B is tight. Karnataka and Jharkhand sit well in the first two positions. Maharashtra, upbeat after a resounding win against Vidarbha, looks to seal the third spot against Assam.

kedar jadhav

Maharashtra will count on its skipper Kedar Jadhav to come good in its crucial tie against Assam.   -  R. Ragu

On the back of an innings victory against Vidarbha -- its first win of the season -- Maharashtra moved to third in Group B with 14 points. It will take on a patchy Assam here on Monday.

The battle for the final quarterfinal berth in the group is tight. Only two points separate four teams with Karnataka and Jharkhand, having a sizable lead at the top of the table, likely to qualify.

The presence of skipper Kedar Jadhav, fresh from his success with the national team, came as big boost in Maharashtra's innings victory against Vidarbha. Jadhav’s presence will solidify the middle order.

Ankit Bawne, who had smashed a double-century, got his second hundred of the season in the last game. He will bring with him first-hand knowledge of the wicket and conditions here at IIT-Chemplast ground, which is the home of his club Jolly Rovers in the TNCA first division league.

In the pace department, Anupam Sanklecha was on fire against Vidarbha picking 14 wickets.

About his side’s slow start, Maharashtra coach Shrikant Kalyani said, “At the start of the season, we were not in a position to get big runs except against Delhi in Mumbai. But thankfully it came good in the last game.”

Jadhav, the coach said, "is a very important person for our team and lot depends on him. He boosts the team’s morale.”

For Assam, lying seventh in the table having played one game more than Saurashtra and Vidarbha below them, a minimum of first innings lead from the match is needed to avoid the prospect of relegation to Group C.

In its last game against Odisha, the team was in a good position batting first before losing the last six wickets for less than 80 runs and went on to concede the first-innings lead.

But skipper K. B. Arun Karthick is hopeful of turning things around, even taking inspiration from the opposition. “Third place is still up for grabs and anything can happen. Before the previous match, Maharashtra was seventh and now they are up to third. Even last year Karnataka who were supposed to qualify didn’t. Delhi, who were topping the table didn’t either. So we just have to do the right things and play tough cricket.”