Ranji Round 4 preview: All eyes on Sehwag

Sehwag was not present during Haryana's training session here on Wednesday, but the team manager, Ajay Gupta, confirmed that he will lead the side when action starts on Thursday. The 37-year-old is expected to fulfill his Ranji Trophy commitments until the end of this season.

Virender Sehwag will be playing his first match since he retired from international cricket on Tueday.   -  Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Ravindra Jadeja will be bolstered after his recall to the Indian side.   -  AP

On Thursday Virender Sehwag will be playing his first competitive match against Karnataka since his retirement on Tuesday. And for that obvious reason, all eyes will be on the former Indian opener when he steps out to the field at the SDNR Wadiyar Ground at Mysore.

Sehwag was not present during Haryana's training session here on Wednesday, but the team manager, Ajay Gupta, confirmed that he will lead the side when action starts on Thursday. The 37-year-old, who has recorded nearly 17,000 international runs in a ground-breaking career, is expected to fulfill his Ranji Trophy commitments until the end of this season. Every innings he plays from here on would be viewed as a must-see event.

Sehwag's teammates, who were practicing earnestly would try and get their raise their game to give their skipper a fitting farewell. The season so far has been disappointing, with Haryana lying at the bottom of Group 'A'.

A four-wicket loss to Delhi followed a draw against Maharashtra - this has left the side with just a solitary point to show. With scores of 92, 37 and 51, Sehwag has done his bit to force the desired results.

Karnataka, meanwhile, have had a steady campaign. Three outings have all resulted in draws, with the defending champion getting the better of the first-innings battle on two occasions. Vinay Kumar and his men are at the fourth place with seven points, and while it is not time to push the panic buttons yet, an urgency to register a few wins has set in.

Delhi has some fine-tuning to do even though it has won two matches on the trot and is leading the Ranji Trophy Group A with 14 points. The team, packed with youngsters, needs to bolster its batting and find the right balance in bowling before it begins its away engagements.

Ahead of the match against Bengal, starting at the Ferozeshah Kotla here on Thursday, Delhi made four changes to the squad: Navdeep Saini, Sumit Narwal and the uncapped Rishabh Pant and Subodh Bhati in place of Ishant Sharma, Pawan Suyal, Mohit Ahlawat and Sarang Rawat.

While Ishant and Suyal were unfit, the team management has replaced Ahlawat with Pant, who is known for his batting exploits at the under-19 level, to provide solidity to the middle order.

With the experienced pace trio--Pradeep Sangwan, Parvinder Awana and Narwal-- ikely to make it to the playing XI, the nature of the pitch will decide whether Saini makes a comeback or Bhati makes his debut.

Sitanshu Kotak, coach of the Saurashtra team, said there would be a spin-friendly track at the Khanderi Stadium in Rajkot, when Saurashtra takes on Hyderabad. The onus will be on Ravindra Jadeja to lead the bowling attack. Jadeja, who has been recalled to the Indian side, has been prolific in this venue. He has scored a triple century playing here. His last match fetched him 22 runs and eight wickets.

Hyderabad, meanwhile, is determined to put up a fight, especially its captain Hanuma Vihari (101 against HP) and Tanmay Agarwal (118 against HP). It should record a win; otherwise its chances of advancing to the knock-out phase will further diminish.