Ranji Trophy: Andhra takes on a buoyant Hyderabad

While Andhra looks to shrug off its narrow defeat against Goa in its last game, Hyderabad is coming into the match with a resounding 286-run win over Jammu and Kashmir.

hanuma vihari

Andhra has improved under captain Hanuma Vihari (right), who's having a chat with coach Sanath Kumar.   -  V. Raju

Poor visibility hampers movement in this city but Andhra and Hyderabad have a clear vision of their target.

Andhra must win. Hyderabad too. That makes their encounter most interesting. The race intensifies to qualify from group C at the International Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday with no favourite for claiming the honours.

Work is still in progress at the stadium, which lies on the expressway between the city and airport, but the playing conditions promise to be immaculate. The effort is to provide cricket lovers a peep into the future as Lucknow vies to take the priority slot for staging bigger matches in the years to come.

Kanpur is a permanent Test centre but cricket administrators are looking at alternate venues to catch the attention of the masses. Lucknow is high on that list.

Andhra would've been in a more comfortable position had it not lost the previous match to Goa. The difference was mere 34 runs but the dent it made in the Andhra camp was huge.

It now looks for a victory to maintain its advantage over Haryana (25 points), which plays Tripura in its last league encounter. Led by Hanuma Vihari, Andhra has made significant progress this season from the tough time under Mohammad Kaif, who was sacked as captain as the team lost four matches and suffered the ignominy of relegation.

With current National selector M. S. K. Prasad introducing a greater sense of responsibility and discipline Andhra recovered impressively this season to back itself for a knockout berth.

Andhra, with 25 points, is a step away from finding a place among the elite but Hyderabad has emerged the team with some amazing results.

Having finished second from the bottom last season it drafted former India medium-pacer Bharat Arun as the coach and he has transformed the team into a force to reckon with.

Hyderabad currently leads the table with 30 points but as Arun pointed out the team has gained a lot in recent times. "We set goals and pursued them. But each player had a role and the responsibility was shared. It has helped the team understand its potential and I am glad to say that we are on the right track."