Ranji Trophy: Confident Karnataka squares off against desperate Hyderabad

With only two points to show from as many games, Hyderabad is on the back foot.

Karnataka enters the field with confidence, having disposed of Assam by an innings and 121 runs in its opening match.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

A confident Karnataka takes on a desperate Hyderabad in a Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ fixture, at the KSCA Stadium (Navule) here on Tuesday.

Karnataka enters the field with confidence, having disposed of Assam by an innings and 121 runs in its opening match. The side is further bolstered by the return of star batsmen, K.L. Rahul and Karun Nair. The duo had missed the Assam outing as they were part of the Board President’s XI unit, which took on New Zealand. With Rahul taking his spot at the top of the order, Mayank Agarwal is likely to move down to
one-drop.

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Read: Confident Karnataka squares off against desperate Hyderabad

Hyderabad, on the other hand, has endured a thoroughly frustrating campaign so far. Rain has taken a heavy toll; both its matches have been abandoned without a ball being bowled. The players are anxious to get going. Hyderabad coach, J. Arunkumar, said, “It is very frustrating. We have gone a long time without any on-field action. I feel bad for the boys, because they have only a total of six league matches to prove their mettle with bat and ball. Now they have to do doubly well in the remaining four matches to make a mark.”

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With only two points to show from as many games, Hyderabad is on the back foot. “We need an outright win - no doubt about it,” Arunkumar said. Pragyan Ojha, who completed his move to Hyderabad from Bengal at the start of the season, will lead the visitor’s spin attack.

The KSCA Stadium (Navule), meanwhile, is set to host its first Ranji Trophy match. In previous years, it was the Jawaharlal Nehru National College of Engineering ground and the PES Institute of Technology and Management ground which hosted domestic encounters. Entry is free.

As Hyderabad coach J. Arunkumar watched his wards train at the KSCA Stadium (Navule) here, he was greeted by several Karnataka players. Warm conversations followed. Only earlier this year, Arunkumar ended his successful five-year stint as Karnataka coach, and shifted allegiance to Hyderabad.

“I’m very excited, because I’ve interacted closely with these Karnataka boys. It feels like a friendly game, because we all know each other well. But yes, my loyalty lies with Hyderabad now," Arunkumar said.

When he was with the Karnataka side, Arunkumar took great pride in the fact that several players from that squad made it to the Indian team. He relived this high on Monday afternoon, when Hyderabad pacer Mohammed Siraj earned his maiden international call-up. “ With Siraj making the cut, the others in the Hyderabad team believe that they too can play for India. This is what worked for Karnataka cricket too,” he said.


The squads:

Karnataka: R. Vinay Kumar (captain), R. Samarth, K.L. Rahul, Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal, Mir Kaunain Abbas, Pavan Deshpande, C.M. Gautam,
Stuart Binny, K. Gowtham, A. Mithun, S. Aravind, Shreyas Gopal, J. Suchith and Sharath Srinivas.

Hyderabad:
Ambati Rayudu (captain), K. Sumanth, T. Agarwal, Ashish Reddy, Akash Bhandari, M. Hassan, C.V. Milind, Mohammad Muddassir, Mohammed Siraj,
Pragyan Ojha, Ravi Kiran, Akshath Reddy, Rohit Rayudu, Saketh Sairam, Bavanaka Sandeep, Amol Shinde and Sudeep Tyagi.

Match referee: Sunil Chaturvedi, Umpires: Navdeep Singh and Pashchim Pathak