The greenish tinge on the wicket at the KCA-St.Xavier’s College ground is a far cry from the dry pitches on which Kerala spelt its doom at home two seasons ago.
The pitch and the weather will be in focus again as Kerala opens its home campaign against Chhattisgarh in the Ranji Trophy cricket match on Monday. The unseasonal rains in the city for the last few days will have a bearing on the contest.
There has been a marked change in Kerala’s approach to matches this season under Sanju Samson’s captaincy. Kerala has gone for wins in both matches and beat Jharkhand in an away match after setting the target. Though Kerala had to grind out a draw against Rajasthan, the team is not going to desert its positive approach at home.
Kerala has players for all conditions and the form shown by Sachin Baby, Rohan Prem and Sanju Samson in batting and by Jalaj Saxena in bowling is encouraging. However, given the nature of the pitch and conditions, the seamers will have a more prominent role to perform in this match.
The host will also be boosted by the return of opener Rohan Kunnummal, who has recovered from his injury, and is certain to partner comeback man Rohan Prem. Krishna Prasad and Sachin Suresh who were selected for the Under-25 team, have been replaced by Salman Nizar and Vishweshwar A. Suresh respectively..
“We have been playing positive cricket this season, always looking for a win. We tried to chase the target against Rajasthan but couldn’t quite achieve it. We will continue to play in the same vein against Chhattisgarh. They are a good side and have won both their matches and we cannot afford to take them lightly. This is a sporting wicket and we can expect a good contest between the bat and the ball. Rohan (Kunnummal) has recovered from his injury and will be available for selection. However, we will decide the playing XI after accessing the conditions in the morning,’‘ said Kerala coach Tinu Yohanan.
Chhattisgarh, which is currently leading the group with two wins, will be facing a slightly tougher opponent than its previous two rivals - Pondicherry and Services.
The side has momentum in its favour after registering facile wins in the first two matches.. Chhattisgarh coach Devendra Bundela is confident of his side’s ability and said it will be looking for its third straight win. “We have a very balanced side and we are not scared of our opponents. We will play for a win. The wicket looks good and we have players to exploit the conditions,’‘ he said.