Stung by an eight-wicket defeat in its Ranji Trophy Elite division debut, Puducherry will aim for a better performance against Railways in a Group C match that begins on Thursday at the IC Guru Nanak College ground in Chennai.

Puducherry began on a positive note against Jammu & Kashmir in the red-ball opener last week: riding on veteran Paras Dogra’s 29th first-class ton, Puducherry posted 343 in its first-innings. The opposition overhauled the total to grab an 83-run lead, however, before bowling Puducherry out for 124 in the second innings, thanks in main to off-spinner Parvez Rasool who took six for 29. J&K got to its target of 42 with ease to pick up six points.

High on confidence

While only a point separates Puducherry and Railways, Karn Sharma’s men will enter the contest exuding confidence after snatching three points from Karnataka in round one.

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Heavyweight Karnataka endured dogged resistance from the Railways after posting a hefty first-innings total of 481. Railways responded with fifties from openers Mrunal Devdhar and Vivek Singh, followed by stoic knocks from Arindam Ghosh (105) and Mohammed Saif (86) in the middle-order. They narrowed Karnataka’s lead to a mere 55 runs, forcing it to a scramble for runs in the second innings, late on days three and four. Railways held ground for a draw on the final day after refusing to be bowled out in an unlikely 279-chase in 33 overs.

On a surface that is conducive for batters, Railways will expect to come good once again, while attention will also be on all-rounder Yuvraj Singh after his fruitful debut against Karnataka - he picked up a five-for (5 for 93) in his first outing while adding a valuable 48 with the bat.

Puducherry will also hope its young openers Neyan Kangayan, Arvind Kothandapani and No. 3 Pavan Desphande rally around the ever-consistent Dogra as the group laggard vyes for better fortunes in the second round.

In another Group C clash, Jammu & Kashmir will face Karnataka in a battle for the top spot at the IIT-Chemplast ground.

Group C standings