Ranji Trophy: Uthappa ruled out for six weeks

Saurashtra will miss Robin Uthappa in the initial phase of the tournament; Cheteshwar Pujara available for first two games.

Robin Uthappa is set to miss the initial phase of the upcoming Ranji Trophy as he recovers from an ankle surgery.   -  K. V. S. Giri

Karnataka batsman Robin Uthappa, who switched to Saurashtra in the last domestic season, will miss the initial phase of Ranji Trophy 2018-19 due to an ankle injury. 

“Uthappa is having an injury. He has some issues with his ankle. Three to four days ago, he underwent a surgery in England. He will need six to eight weeks to recover,” Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak told Sportstar on Friday.

“I don’t know how much will he be able to play in the league stage.  But even if he is back for the second phase, he will add value to our side,” he added.

India internationals Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja will be available for the first few matches.  “Pujara will be there in the first two games (before flying out to Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy), Jadeja may miss out on the opener (due the ongoing ODI series against the Windies) but he will be available for the second game,” said Kotak.

Saurashtra is also facing selection conundrums trying to divide its young players between the BCCI U-23 tournament and Ranji. “The problem is if we pick players — who are also eligible for the U-23 tournament — we have to ensure they make it to the playing XI. We don’t want them to miss both the chances. If they make it, we will keep them but there is no point sitting out as reserves.”

Samarth Vyas (batsman), Yuvraj Chudasama (leg-break bowler) and Chetan Sakariya (left-arm pacer) — to name a few — are eligible for both the tournaments. Saurashtra could manage only three wins in eight games in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, and now, Kotak is keen to turn the tide.

“Going into the four-dayer, we will try to qualify to the last four stage without fail,” he said. Saurashtra will start its Ranji campaign against Chhattisgarh on November 1 with Jaydev Shah as skipper.