Andhra seems to hold the aces as it takes on Tripura in their Ranji Trophy group C match at the Sardar Patel stadium from Sunday.
Two back-to-back wins against Jammu and Kashmir and Haryana in its recent outings at Mumbai should be more than a mere morale booster. Fifteen points from five games against Tripura’s 12 from four (the latter’s last game against Hyderabad postponed on account of Delhi’s pollution) may not differentiate the teams much.
But Andhra’s two outright victories compared to Tripura’s lone success against Services should see the former in a better frame of mind for their impending showdown. Interestingly, Andhra conceded the first innings lead to Services in its latest fixture. The last face-off between the present rivals was at Ongole in the 2014-15 season, when Ricky Bhui scored 86 and the then skipper Mohd. Kaif raked up a century, in Andhra’s victory.
The return of Bhui to the squad after shoulder surgery should recharge Andhra’s batting with the resilience it sorely requires. The talented youngster, along with K.V. Sashikanth, is fresh from steering his team to an outright win against Railways in the Under-23 game at Kadapa. For the record, it was Andhra’s batting mainly that had wilted in earlier engagements resulting in the southern side conceding the first innings lead on three occasions.
Andhra manager M. S. Kumar retained faith in the team’s pace attack as its core strength, even with D. Siva Kumar sidelined with a groin injury. With a seaming track expected, his bowlers may possibly call the shots.
His counterpart Jayanta Dey banked on a sporting wicket, the even bounce good for batting, while the first couple of hours are expected to assist the bowlers. With the Arabian Sea not too far off, he expected the afternoon breeze to aid the pacemen.
Apart from the standard mix of youth and experience, Dey saw hope in centuries coming from several batsmen, even from No. 7 Gurinder Singh, an import from Punjab who played the game’s shorter versions for the northern side. Contribution from all quarters is another cause for cheer and the team spirit is high, he felt.
It’s not just the batting Dey is optimistic about. Rana Datta’s hat-trick against Himachal Pradesh, the first perhaps in this edition of the championship and his bag of 20 wickets thus far bodes well for Tripura’s bowling. Skipper Mani Sankar Mura Singh himself should be quite a handful.
The teams (from):
Tripura: Mani Sankar Mura Singh (captain), Nirupam Sen Choudhury (vice-captain), Udiyan Bose, Bishal Ghosh, Smit Patel (wicket-keeper), Yashpal Singh, Rana Dutta, Gurinder Singh, Banti Roy, Rajat Dey, Abhijit Dey, Chiranjit Paul, Sanjoy Majumdar, A.S. Sarkar, Aniruddha Saha. Coach: Anujpal Das. Manager: Jayanta Dey.
Andhra: G. Hanuma Vihari (captain), K.S. Bharat (vice-captain), D.B. Prashanth Kumar, K. Sreekanth, Ricky Bhui, A.G. Pradeep, D. Siva Kumar, P. Vijay Kumar, Aswin Hebbar, Bandaru Ayyappa, I. Karthik Raman, Bhargav Bhatt, Ch. Stephen, D.B. Ravi Teja, B. Siddharth Prasad, T. Vamsi Krishna, K.V. Sashikanth.
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