After being routed in their respective Deodhar Trophy campaign openers, North Zone and Central Zone will look to open their account when they face off at the Cricket Association Puducherry (CAP) Ground 2 here on Wednesday.
While North will have to overcome the ignominy of registering the lowest team total in the tournament’s history after being skittled out for 60 against South Zone, Central needs to pick up the pieces following a tame six-wicket surrender to East Zone.
The batters from both teams will be under the scanner, particularly Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) teammates and North and Central skippers Nitish Rana and Venkatesh Iyer, respectively. The India internationals only managed scores of 4 and 8, respectively, and will have a leaf to take out of fellow KKR batter Rinku Singh, who struck a composed half-century in Central’s only silver lining of its 207-run total in its match on Monday.
What would compound the woes of the unsettled batting of both sides is that they will have to contend with some quality pacers in conditions favourable to swing and seam. While Central’s Shivam Mavi, Yash Thakur and Aniket Chaudhary went wicketless against East, the latter two were economical and have reinforcements in Mohsin Khan and Akash Madhwal.
Similarly, North has the experience of Sandeep Sharma and Rishi Dhawan on its side. Yudhvir Singh and Vaibhav Arora could come off the bench to bolster them.
Under forecasted overcast skies in the morning, the toss and the subsequent opening hour could prove to be decisive, just as it was when Central openers Aryan Juyal and Madhav Kaushik could only eke 26 runs in 10 overs against an East Zone attack that unerringly maintained its line and length. Moreover, seven of the 10 wickets in the first innings at the venue were picked by seamers as North East Zone was bundled out for 207 against West Zone.
Juyal had retired hurt early in Central’s innings and could be replaced by Upendra Yadav, who kept wickets for the entirety of the game against East. Left-arm spinner Nishant Sindhu, the top wicket-taker in the recently concluded ACC Emerging Teams Asia Cup, could boost North’s spin arsenal, which comprises Mayank Markande and Mayank Dagar.
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