Ranji Trophy: Confident Kerala takes on Meghalaya

Sanju Samson would be available only for the last two games, after undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy, Bengaluru.

Published : Feb 16, 2022 20:56 IST , Rajkot

Sachin Baby in action.
Sachin Baby in action.

Sachin Baby in action.

The wait is over. The Ranji Trophy is back.

After the tournament had to be abandoned last season, there were concerns over its fate this time as well. However, clearing the air, 38 teams will begin their campaign in the 87th edition of the tournament across the country on Thursday.

The Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium here is one of the venues. It will host the entire Group A matches. Kerala will certainly be fancying its chances, but it may not be easy to make it to the knock-out stage: only the topper will advance. Its first opponent is Meghalaya.

Kerala will then take on Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh. “It is a tough group and we cannot afford to take anyone lightly, even Meghalaya, which came through from the Plate division,” coach Tinu Yohannan told Sportstar . “Our aim is to win all the matches.”

Kerala will have to play without its best player in one of those matches, though. Sanju Samson would be available only for the last two games, after undergoing rehabilitation at the National Cricket Academy, Bengaluru.

In the dashing batter’s absence, Kerala will have to depend mainly on captain Sachin Baby, Vishnu Vinod, Jalaj Saxena and P. Rahul for runs. Kerala will also be hoping for Jalaj to deliver with his off-spin.

The coach is expecting a good show from the seamers too, given the amount of grass on the wicket. Basil Thampi and M.D. Nidheesh could be raring to go. Former India seamer S. Sreesanth is also in the squad.

D.B. Ravi Teja, a mainstay of the Meghalaya team, also thinks that the pacers could get something from the wicket. “You don’t come across such green tops often in India,” he said. “But I think having sporting tracks is a nice idea; there isn’t much fun playing on batting beauties.”

Meghalaya will need the experienced Ravi to spend time at the crease. Captain Puneet Bisht and Chirag Kharana add to the batting strength, while seamers Dippu Sangma and Akash Choudhary and left-arm spinner Aryan Bora are expected to bowl plenty of overs.

The teams

Kerala: Sachin Baby (captain), N.P. Basil, Vishnu Vinod, M.D. Nideesh, Anand Krishnan, Manu Krishnan, Rohan Kunnumal, Basil Thampi, Vatsal Govind, F. Fanoos, P. Rahul, S. Sreesanth, Salman Nizar, Varun Nayanar, Jalaj Saxena, Vinoop Manoharan, Sijomon Jopseph, Eden Apple Tom, K.C. Akshay and S. Mithun.

Meghalaya: Punit Bisht (captain), Chirag Khurana, Ravi Teja, Akash Choudhary, Dippu Sangma, Kilco Marak, Md. Nafees Siddique, Aryan Bora, Nick Dan, Purajit Mandal, Chengkham Sangma, Baman Shangpliang, Prolin Phanjom, Tengchan Sangma,  Wanlambok Nongkhlaw, Wallamjhon Lyngdoh Kynshi, Himan C. Phukan, Wellmanson Passah, Lerry Sangma, Kishan Lyngdoh, Shaisngi Lyngdoh, Morningstar Khongwir, Ram Gurung, Anisk Charak and Pringsang Sangma.

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