Ranji Trophy: Batters hold the key in Haryana-Himachal tie

On a grass-laden surface that's expected to aid bounce, Haryana and Himachal hope for their batters to do well. With 22 points against Himachal's 19, Haryana will look to strengthen its quarterfinal chances.

nitin saini

Nitin Saini, with 767 runs including three centuries, has been the highlight of Haryana's progress.   -  PTI

Batting skills will count a lot as Haryana takes on Himachal in a crucial match starting here from Tuesday. With 22 points against Himachal's 19, Haryana can look to strengthen its chances with a first-innings lead but a victory's possible in the pitch here.

"There is grass on the pitch and the outfield is said to be fast," said Haryana coach Vijay Yadav.

For Himachal coach Abhay Sharma the conditions offer as much competition. "I expect the pitch to have bounce and that should make the game interesting," observed Abhay.

Haryana let go good chances of outright wins in the previous matches against Goa and Jammu and Kashmir. "The injury (side sprain) to (Yuzvendra) Chahal cost us. He would have come in handy against Goa and J&K but we now have to make the most of what we have," lamented Yadav.

Himachal has issues like fatigue. The players are reportedly struggling to maintain fitness due to constant travelling and competition. "I back my team to qualify. Conditions have been demanding but the boys have coped with the challenges as much as they could. I have faith in their capabilities," said Abhay.

Prashant Chopra (504), Robin Bist (441), Sumeet Verma (420), Paras Dogra (330) and Ankush Bains (311) have been the consistent scorers with Rishi Dhawan (310 runs and 25 wickets) playing his part of an all-rounder well for Himachal. Left-arm spinner Mayank Dagar (24 wickets) and off-spinner Gurvinder Singh (16 wickets) have supported Dhawan adequately.

Haryana relies on opener Nitin Saini. His brilliant run this season – 767 runs with three centuries – has been the highlight of Haryana's progress. Rajat Paliwal (475 runs) and Shubham Rohilla (408 runs) have provided the thrust to Haryana's batting with Chahal (28 wickets), Mohit Sharma (21) and Harshal Patel (21) have been the main wicket-takers.

"Obviously batting is the key on this pitch," said Yadav. Haryana has drafted in leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia for the injured Chahal and seamer Poonish Mehta, who is expected to make his debut in this match.

The teams:

Haryana: Mohit Sharma (captain), Nitin Saini, Subham Rohilla, Mohit Hooda, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rajat Paliwal, Rohit Sharma, Harshal Patel, Sanjay Pahal, Ashok Hooda, Rahul Tewatia, Shivam Chauhan, G. Veer, Poonish Mehta and Ashok Sandhu.

Himachal: Bipul Sharma (captain), Sumeet Verma, Robin Bist, Prashant Chopra, Rishi Dhawan, Ankit Kalsi, Paras Dogra, Ankush Bains, Mayank Dagar, Gurvinder Singh, Akshay Chauhan, Ravi Thakur, Pankaj Jaiswal, Kunwar Abhinay and Amit Kumar.