Struck by the perils of defending a title, Madhya Pradesh will host a rejuvenated Andhra in the fourth Ranji Trophy 2022-23 Elite quarterfinal at the Holkar Stadium in Indore from Tuesday.
Helmed by master tactician Chandrakant Pandit, MP was prowling in the Elite Group D with dominating results before it hit a wall during the last two rounds. MP registered two innings-victories and as many wins by margins over 200 runs before second-ranked Punjab dealt a massive blow. Aditya Shrivastava’s men suffered an innings and 122-run defeat before conceding a first-innings lead to Tripura in a drawn match in the seventh round.
While its morale would have taken a hit, vice-captain Rajat Patidar’s return from national commitments will bolster MP’s batting for the five-day affair against Andhra, whose qualification route has been nothing short of incredible.
Led by Hanuma Vihari, Andhra (26 points) qualified with its last-round bonus point win being the decisive factor over Maharashtra (26), which settled for a unique first-innings tie with Mumbai.
While Andhra will miss the services of wicketkeeper KS Bharat, named in India’s Border-Gavaskar Trophy squad, coach Yere Goud is content with the team’s newfound template. “I think the effort the boys have put in and the way Vihari has marshalled the side with his field placements, tactics and in terms of minimum resources, somewhere destiny has played a part in taking us to the knockouts.
“We are not a team that has had a particular combination, but at least in the last three-four matches, we have had a certain formula that has worked for us. We have had to change the pacers because of injuries and the fatigue factor, but Lalith (Mohan) getting five-wicket hauls in consecutive matches has helped,” Goud said.
Ranji Trophy quarterfinal - FULL SCHEULE
The absence of an ensemble of star batters hasn’t hurt Andhra after it scripted triumphs over Saurashtra and Assam. Andhra has constructed wins with disciplined performances from the bowlers. Seamers KV Sasikanth, Nitish Kumar Reddy and the spin pair of Lalith and Shoaib Khan, have all claimed 20-plus wickets.
Andhra will have to counter MP’s menacing seamer Avesh Khan, who has racked up 31 wickets from 10 innings. Spinners Saransh Jain and Kumar Kartikeya have also dismantled their opponents in low-scoring games at the venue in the early stages of this edition.
Madhya Pradesh: Aditya Shrivastava (c), Rajat Patidar, Yash Dubey, Himanshu Mantri, Harsh Gawli, Shubham Sharma, Akshat Raghuwanshi, Aman Solanki, Kumar Kartikeya, Saransh Jain, Avesh Khan, Ankit Kushwaha, Gaurav Yadav, Anubhav Agarwal, Mihir Hirwani.
Andhra: Hanuma Vihari (C), Ricky Bhui, Shaik Rasheed, Ashwin Hebbar, Karan Shinde, KV Sasikanth, Shoaib Khan, Manish, Abhishek Reddy, Lalith Mohan, Tapaswi, Prithvi Raj, Vamsikrishna, Gnaneshwar, Nitish Kumar Reddy, U Girinath, Ashish, Karthik Raman, Sudharsan.