Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Kerala hopes for a turnaround at home

The two defeats coming after two big wins has pushed Kerala from the top spot to fourth position in the table but Sachin said all wasn’t lost and his team was still in hunt for a place in the quarterfinals.

Sachin Baby along with his Kerala teammates participate in a training session.   -  S. Mahinsha

Kerala’s campaign’s in the Ranji Trophy this season has hit a trough after two consecutive defeats but there wasn’t any hint of desperation in captain Sachin Baby’s voice.

The skipper rather sounded very confident about his team’s chances on the eve of the crucial  match against Delhi at the KCA-St.Xavier’s College ground.

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The two defeats coming after two big wins has pushed Kerala from the top spot to fourth position in the table but Sachin said all wasn’t lost and his team was still in hunt for a place in the quarterfinals.

The skipper admitted that batting was a concern and sudden collapses had hurt the team in the last two matches.

The propensity to lose wickets in a heap had seen Kerala lose the plot against both Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

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The law of averages has finally caught up with prolific scorer Jalaj Saxena and his failures combined with lack of runs from the top-order has seen Kerala put up underwhelming totals against Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

"To be honest we could have drawn both matches we lost if we had put up more runs on the board. The top order has to contribute more. Saju Samson has run into form and it is a good sign for us. Definitely we fancy our chances against Delhi. They are missing some key players here and it is a relatively inexperienced side and we hope to cash on to that. We are hoping for  turnaround at home,’’ Sachin said.

The Kerala selectors have included Under-19 captain Vathsal Govind, who has been in terrific form this season in Cooch Behar Trophy in which he scored a triple century and a hundred, to shore up the fragile batting.

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Delhi failed to give Gautham Gambir a perfect farewell in his last match after bad light robbed the team of a certain win against Andhra.

Coach Mithun Manas said his team has moved on from the disappointed and was focussed to get full points against Kerala.

"Host Kerala has an advantage and they have prepared a wicket to suit their spinners. But we also have good spinners in our ranks to exploit the conditions.  It is going to be an interesting match,’’ he said.

The teams:

Kerala: Sachin Baby (captain), Jalaj Saxena, Arun Karthik, Muhammed Azharudeen, Sanju V.Samson, Vathsal Govind, V.A.Jagadeesh, Akshay Chandran, Vishnu Vinod, Sijomon Joseph, Sandeep S.Warrier, M.D.Nidheesh, Bashil Thampi, P.Rahul and Vinoop S.Manoharan.

Delhi: Dhruv Shorey (Captain), Hiten Dalal, Shivam Sharma, Subodh Bhati, Varun Sood, Vaibhav Rawal, Vikas Mishra, Anuj Rawat, Shivank Vashisth, Sarthak Ranjan, Nikhil Kumar, Lalit Yadav, Kunwar Bidhuri, Akash Sudan and Jonty Sidhu.