A depleted Rajasthan will take on confident Andhra in the marquee Group-E match of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament at the KCA-St.Xavier’s College ground on Thursday.

The curtailed Ranji Trophy this season offers no comebacks to slow starters and both teams will be aiming to start their campaign on winning note as it will take them a step closer to a place in the quarterfinals.

However, Rajasthan will miss the services of several key players - Deepak Chahar, Deepak Hooda, Ravi Bishnoi (all of them away with the Indian team), the injured Abdul Khaleel and indisposed Kamlesh Nagarkoti – for the opener.


But Rajasthan coach Nikhil Doru reckons his team has enough bench strength to cover up for the missing players. Captain Ashok Menaria, Mahipal Lomror and Rajesh Bishnoi will be the key batters. Left-arm spinner Shubham Sharma, who has happy memories of this venue when he bowled Rajasthan to an innings win over Kerala two years ago, will have a big role to play on the surface which has traditionally helped the spinners. Nikhil Doru expects the pitch to turn and is confident that his spinners will deliver.

“Though there is a bit of grass on the wicket. I reckon it will turn as the match progresses. We have good spinners and they can be more than a handful on a helpful surface. We also have a decent medium pace attack. So I am confident that we will win,” he said.

Andhra coach Connor Williams wants his players to stay focused and he is aware of Rajasthan’s strength. “We have to treat each game as a knockout. I want my players to stay focused from the first ball. We have to play consistently well over the four days on this wicket. Rajasthan despite missing several players is still a good side but I have confidence in my boys. We have a good mix of senior and junior players. Of course, K.S Bharath will be the key player for us. Ricky Bhui has scored a century at this venue and some of the players have played here before and it will put them in good stead,’’ he said.

The teams (from)

Rajasthan:  Ashok Menaria (Capt.), Mahipal Lomror, Aniket Choudhary, Deepak Karwasra, Rajesh Bishnoi, Aditya Garhwal, Yash Kothari, Rituraj Singh, Abhimanyu Lamba, Mohit Jain, Tanveer Ul-Haq, Chandrapal Singh, Anirudh Singh, Samarpit Joshi, Manendra Singh, Manav Suthar, Amit Gautam and Shubham Sharma.

Andhra:  K.S. Bharat (Capt.), C.R. Gnaneshwar, Ashwin Hebbar, Karan Shinde, Ricky Bhui, U.A.V. Varma, P. Tapaswi, K.V. Sasikanth, B. Ayyappa, U.M.S. Girinath, T.V. Krishna, Maheep Kumar, Y. Prithvi Raj, D. Naren Reddy, S. Ashish, Shaik Mohammed Rafi , T. Vijay, G. Manish, C.H. Stephen, Y. Sandeep and P. Girinath Reddy.