Ranji Trophy: Kerala gears up for Rajasthan challenge

Despite starting the season with a bang, Kerala struggled to leave an impact against defending champion Gujarat. The four-wicket loss, thus, has left the side with the necessity to prove its real worth again so as to stay in contention for a place in the knock-outs.

The return of Basil Thampi - back from India A duty - should bolster Kerala’s bowling attack.   -  Special Arrangement

Kerala, back on home turf, will attempt to get back to winning ways when it takes on Rajasthan in a Group B Ranji Trophy match at the St. Xavier's -KCA cricket ground, Thumba, on Tuesday.
 

Despite starting the season with a bang, Kerala struggled to leave an impact against defending champion Gujarat. The four-wicket loss, thus, has left the side with the necessity to prove its real worth again so as to stay in contention for a place in the knock-outs.

Read: Batlle of the equals in a star-studded affair

Read: Confident Karnataka squares off against desperate Hyderabad

Trained by renowned Dave Whatmore, the side will be looking forward to a decent display from its key batsmen - skipper Sachin Baby, Sanju V. Samson, K.B. Arun Karthick, Rohan Prem. The return of Basil Thampi - back from India A duty - should bolster Kerala’s chances as he along with fellow-pacer, Sandeep Warrier and spinner Jalaj Saxena could pose a threat to the rival batsmen.

Read: Weather holds the key in Andhra-Odisha clash

Rajasthan, two-time winner of the premier tournament – in 2011 and 2012 - has been unable to rework the magic of its past performances during the current season. Two draws, having surrendered its first innings lead to Jammu & Kashmir and another against Jharkhand after having enforced the follow-on, have resulted in four points

The side remains unchanged with the hope that A. V. Gautham, Ashok Menaria, and Robin Bist will find their mojo with the bat while skipper Pankaj Singh, A. V. Choudhary and M.K. Lomror will put the brakes on the rival batting.

The well-rolled-out pitch with some grass still on it is quite likely to test the patience of the two teams, though it might offer some turn after a couple of days. Application and perseverance would be the two essential qualities that the teams need to display in ample measure in order to come out on top.

The teams:

Kerala (from): Sachin Baby (captain), K.B. Arun Karthick, P. Rahul, Sanju V. Samson, Rohan Prem, Mohammed Azharuddeen (wicket-keeper),
Jalaj Saxena, Sandeep Warrier, Basil Thampi, M.D. Nidheesh, Fabid Ahmed, Vishnu Vinod, Akshay Chandran, K.M. Asif, Nilkhilesh Surendran, Salman Nizar and Sijomon Joseph.

Rajasthan (from): Pankaj Singh (captain), D.H. Yagnik (wicket-keeper), Ashok Menaria, A.V. Gautam, M.K. Lomror, Robin Bist, A. V. Choudhary,
R.B. Bishnoi, R.K. Bishnoi, T.M. Ul Haq, S.S. Dobal, A.R. Gupta, Tejinder Singh, Chetan Bist and Deepak Chahar.

Umpires: Rohan Pandit and Umesh Dubey. Match Referee: D. Mukherjee.
 

Hours of play: 9.30 a.m. to 12 noon, 12.40 p.m. to 2.40 p.m., 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. (9.15 a.m. start on the final day).