Kerala seeks change in fortune

Winless Kerala is seeking a change in fortune when it takes on in-form Andhra in the crucial Ranji Trophy Group C match at Assam Cricket Association Stadium here on Monday.

Kerala captain Rohan Prem has become the state's highest run scorer in first class cricket.   -  V.V Subrhamanyam

Winless Kerala is seeking a change in fortune when it takes on in-form Andhra in the crucial Ranji Trophy Group C match at Assam Cricket Association Stadium here on Monday.

The change in coach and revamp in the squad didn’t do anything good for Kerala in the previous game against Goa in Mumbai. In fact, Kerala was lucky to escape with a draw after Sugan Kamat’s counter attacking century in the second innings nearly snatched an improbable win for Goans.

Kerala again took the first innings lead in the match against Goa which has been the trend so far this season. But the side has failed to snatch the big moments which has allowed its rivals to stage comebacks. Kerala has taken the first innings lead on five occasions but all the matches have ended in draws. The inconsistency in batting, which saw some dramatic collapses, prevented the team from piling big totals. However, spin dominated bowling has performed collectively to cover up the lapses of batsmen.

Kerala’s middle order has been fragile this season. The problem was compounded by Sanju Samson’s, Kerala’s biggest impact player, lean patch with bat after he had started season with a sparkling hundred against Jammu and Kashmir. The inability of the batsmen to score quickly saw Kerala bowlers getting less time to bowl out opposition.

Sanju’s poor form and inconsistent show by its professional players, who have played well in patches, have often put pressure on Rohan Prem. However, Rohan has stood tall among ruins. He has been most consistent batsmen for Kerala this season and proved that captaincy hasn’t affected his batting. During his century against Goa, Rohan became Kerala highest run scorer in first class cricket. But support for him has been minimal from his team-mates. "I have never played for records. But it something which I never thought I would get when I started off my career. But looking at this season’s performance we have tried very hard to win but there are certain areas which we need to improve. It is not easy to take first innings lead against all opponents on that count I think we are playing well. It is only a matter of time for us to click as a unit. Andhra is on a high. They are in good form. We have to be at our best. We are thinking of playing positive cricket against them," said Rohan on eve of the match.

Andhra has been a revelation this season and is sitting pretty at the top with 22 points. The team has beaten stronger rivals and is fresh from victory against Tripura in the last match. Andhra will be hoping to carry on the momentum against Kerala which is placed fifth with 15 points. Against a team which has been performing collectively as a unit, Kerala has its task cut out.

Teams

Kerala: Rohan Prem, Iqbal Abdullah, Sanju Samson, Sachin Baby, Sandeep Warrier, Vinod Kumar, K.S.Monish, Vishnu Vinod, Bhavin Thakkar, Fabid Ahmed, Akshay Chandran, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Salman Nizar, Basil Thampi, Jalaj Saxena,

Andhra: Hanumant Vihari, K.S.Bharat, D.B.Prasanth,R.K. Bhuri, Ravi Teja, AG Pradeep, Ashwin Hebbar, P.V.Sasikanth, C.V.Stephen, BA.Bhatt, D.P. Vijayakumar, Sivakumar, B. Ayyappa, K.R. Sreekanth.