Missing Rajat Bhatia a big blow, says Saxena

Uttarakhand stand-in skipper Vineet Saxena says the pressure is on the defending champion, Vidarbha, in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal.

Uttarakhand stand-in skipper Vineet Saxena is confident of his side's chances in the quarterfinal.   -  BCCI

When the eight new teams entered the first-class cricketing arena, eyebrows were raised on their capabilities to perform in the Ranji Trophy. Uttarakhand has been an exception. With senior cricketers like Rajat Bhatia and Vineet Saxena, it has remained unbeaten in Ranji so far to reach the quarterfinals.

When it takes on defending champion Vidarbha in Nagpur, it will be missing out on the services of its regular captain, Bhatia, who will be travelling to Hawaii to complete a course on human bio-mechanics. But stand-in skipper, Saxena, is confident of the side’s chances.

The seasoned batsman, who had earlier played for Rajasthan, spoke to Sportstar on Friday.


This is the first Ranji Trophy season for Uttarakhand and the team has already made it to the quarterfinals of the tournament...

It has been a pretty good season for us. We started with the Vijay Hazare Trophy. The first game was against Bihar and we had lost four wickets for 51 runs and eventually managed to score 160. We were able to take five wickets despite dropping a few catches. Otherwise, we could have defended that total also.

It was a first match we played as a team. Ever since, we have been undefeated till now. We have won all the games — be it one-dayers or in Ranji Trophy. It has been really good for us. You always run as you get along. We got to improve on whatever mistakes we have committed so far. We are up against a strong opponent and there is no scope for complacency.

As a stand-in captain, what do you aim to achieve?

When we started the season, our aim was to qualify for the knockouts and possibly get promoted to the next stage. We have been able to achieve that. Now it is a big match and it should be a good learning experience and there is not much pressure on Uttarakhand. It will be more on Vidarbha as it is the defending champion. We are newcomers and we have everything to play for. Vidarbha would start favourite.

Any special plans against Vidarbha?

It is very important to stay relaxed and remain focused. We need not create a big hype that we are playing Vidarbha. That won’t help us. The competition is between the bat and the ball and we should restrict it to that. If you think about the names, it won’t be good for any of us.

As the skipper, what’s your advise to your team-mates?

We are playing the best team of the country and you have to play our best cricket. So just try to give your best. The results doesn’t matter.

Are there any injury concerns or pull-outs?

As of now it’s only Rajat. But it’s a big void to fill. He has been in sublime form. He was batting very well. In the league games, there were times when we lost early wickets, and he stood firm to guide us through. He has been really instrumental in the season. He is the highest run-getter for us as well. Missing Rajat is a big blow for the team.

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