Ranji Trophy: Goa will hope to take the fight to Andhra

Not overawed by the opposition, Goa's vice-captain Swapnil Asnodkar said that his side would go out and express itself.

Sagun Kamath's side will be hoping to bat first as it could prove to be an advantage later on.   -  K. Ramesh Babu

Andhra, sitting pretty at the top of the pile, takes on points-wise lowly-placed Goa in a Ranji Trophy Group-C match at the Railway Stadium from Tuesday.

“Our points don’t reflect our performance,” said Goa’s vice-captain Swapnil Asnodkar during nets on the eve of the contest. “Even if the end results didn’t favour us, we have played well, and we are prepared for the match ahead of us.”

“The team batting first could have an advantage,” Asnodkar predicted, a seasoned campaigner’s take on the track. “Although it’s a sporting wicket, a verdict is doubtful, with the strip likely to slow down as the match progresses.”

Not overawed by the opposition, Asnodkar said his side would go out and express itself. “We can take up the challenge and, if we all play with intensity, we could make it difficult for the opposition,” he averred.

Andhra coach K. Sanath Kumar found little grass on the surface, which, he said, may help the seamers a bit. “It’s a fresh wicket, but will take turn in the later stages of the game,” he said.

Manager M.S. Kumar wasn’t willing to underrate the rival squad which has the abilities to turn things its way. “We’ll take it one session at a time and strive to dominate,” he said.

Ch. Stephen should be back in the scheme of things following a groin injury that had sidelined him while Ashwin Hebbar, injured when fielding against Kerala at Guwahati, might not make it.

K. Sreekanth has been replaced by M. Pranith on the merit of a double century in an under-23 match and with a view to add variety to the batting; he is a left-hander.

Kumar said that the team had shown character in coming back strongly when the chips were down.

After conceding the first-innings lead to Jammu & Kashmir at Mumbai, Andhra went on to register an outright win. So did it hold out for a full day against a dominant Chhattisgarh, which bolstered belief in the team. But for a poor showing against Services, the southern side has been consistent, despite back-to-back games.

The manager singled out Paidikalva Vijay Kumar for praise. “His bowling this season has been, to say the least, lion-hearted. Not only has he been nagging in accuracy, our bowling mainstay has been niggardly in giving away runs,” he said.

The uneven outfield should pose a few problems for fielding. Since the sun sets early in these parts, the game will kick off at 9 a.m.

Squads:

Goa: Sagun Kamath (capt.), Swapnil Asnodkar, Reagan Pinto, Darshan Misal, Snehal Kauthankar, Rajshekar Harikant, Samar Dubhashi (wicketkeeper), Siddesh Ramani, Amulya Pandrekar, Shadab Jakati, Rituraj Singh, Saurabh Bandekar, Felix Alemao, Ganeshraj Narvekar, and Sumiran Amonkar.

Andhra: G. Hanuma Vihari (capt.), K.S. Bharat (wk), D.B. Prasanth Kumar, Ricky Bhui, A.G. Pradeep, D. Siva Kumar, P. Vijay Kumar, Aswin Hebbar, B. Ayyappa, I. Karthik Raman, Bhargav Bhatt, Ch. Stephen, D.B. Ravi Teja, B. Siddharth Prasad, T. Vamsi Krishna, K. V. Sashikanth and M. Pranith.