Ranji Trophy: Pandey-led Karnataka takes on struggling Chattisgarh

Manish Pandey replaces Vinay Kumar as captain when Karnataka takes on Chattisgarh in its Ranji Trophy fixture.

The return of all-rounder K. Gowtham has given a boost to the Karnataka side.   -  PTI Photo

Manish Pandey will lead Karnataka against Chhattisgarh in its Ranji Trophy fixture here, relieving Vinay Kumar of captaincy duties. Vinay, who missed the previous encounter at Shivamogga due to an injury, has been included in the team.

Sudhakar Rao, KSCA Honourary Secretary, stated, “We want to try a new, younger leader, and Manish is the best candidate. He’s fit and available for the rest of the season. We've made this decision with the future of Karnataka cricket in mind. Manish will lead the side across formats.”

On Vinay, 34, Sudhakar said, “Vinay still has great value as a fast bowler. As long as he is fit, he will play.”

Read: Hyderabad aims for outright win

In other team news, R. Samarth and Karun Nair miss out due to injuries. While Samarth injured his finger at Shivamogga, Karun is yet to recover fully from a thumb injury sustained at Rajkot earlier this month.

Despite the many changes in team personnel, Karnataka starts as favourite against the struggling Chhattisgarh. The home team is fourth on the combined Elite Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ standings with 21 points from six games, while Chhattisgarh sits at the bottom of the 18-team table.

READ| Ranji Trophy: Needed to gradually hand over the captaincy to Manish, says Vinay Kumar

The recent return of all-rounder K. Gowtham, from the India 'A' team, has added depth to the Karnataka side. Gowtham’s destructive six for 30 against Railways in the second essay cemented his status as a true match-winner. In the first innings, pacer Ronit More recorded a five-for to take his tournament wickets tally to 18, at an impressive average of 18.77.

On the batting front, youngsters D. Nischal and K.V. Siddharth have accumulated more than 450 runs each so far. Vice-captain Shreyas Gopal has been consistent with both bat and ball.

Karnataka needs all departments to fire in unison, as a victory here will considerably boost its chances of qualifying for the quarterfinal round.

Chhattisgarh, on the other hand, has no chance of making it past the group stage. The visitor has recorded only six points, and is yet to register a win in six matches so far. Centuries from Ajay Mandal, captain Amandeep Khare and Ashutosh Singh helped the side gain the first-innings lead against Maharashtra in its last match, but a second innings collapse nearly resulted in defeat.

The squads:

Karnataka: Manish Pandey (capt), Vinay Kumar, Shreyas Gopal, D. Nischal, K.V. Siddharth, Liyan Khan, Devdutt Padikal, B.R. Sharath, J. Suchith, A. Mithun, Ronit More, Pavan Deshpande, Sharath Srinivas, K. Gowtham, Prasidh Krishna.

Chattisgarh: Pankaj Kumar, Ashutosh Singh, Lavin Coster, Sanjeet Desai, Sahil Gupta, Harpreet Singh, Amandeep Khare (capt), Vishal Kushwah, Ajay Mandal, Manoj Singh, Omkar Verma, Rishabh Tiwari, Sumit Ruikar, Shahnawaz Hussain, Shakeeb Ahmed, Shivendra Singh, Ashutosh Singh.

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