Parthiv Patel to lead Gujarat in quarterfinal

Along with Parthiv, spinners Axar Patel and Piyush Chawla will also be available for the last-eight clash.

Parthiv Patel in action at the Duleep Trophy last year.   -  B. JOTHI RAMALINGAM

Over the last few years, Gujarat has played a dominating role in the Ranji Trophy under the captaincy of India international Parthiv Patel. But this season, the side hardly had its captain in the ranks as he was busy touring Australia with the Indian team.

But ahead of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals clash against Kerala, Parthiv is back to lead the Gujarat side. The team’s coach, Hitesh Majmudar, has confirmed the development.

“Parthiv was not available earlier due to his international commitments but now that he is back, he will play the quarterfinals,” Majmudar told Sportstar. “His presence is a big boost for the team,” the coach said.

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Along with Parthiv, spinners Axar Patel and Piyush Chawla will also be available for the last-eight clash, and the coach feels that it will be a big boost for the team.

“We will be playing the knockouts for the third time in a row and all the players know how to deliver in a five-day game. That’s a great thing. We have got two-three youngsters who are doing well, so that’s a positive,” Majmudar said.

While the team has a group of experienced spinners, youngsters like Siddharth Desai has also been the find of the season. “We have a perfect mix of young and experienced bowlers. All of them performed well and when we needed seven points, they helped us achieve it. So the confidence is really high,” Majmudar said.

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With the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) going back to the home and away format for the knockouts, Gujarat will have to travel to Wayanad — which is Kerala’s home venue. But the coach is not thinking too much about Kerala having the ‘home advantage’.

“Kerala’s main centre is either Thiruvananthapuram or Kochi. Even they haven’t played too many matches in Wayanad, so the home advantage would not matter much. I was there in Wayanad for 27 days for the South Zone camp, I know the conditions. Whenever we have played out of home, we have got outright wins and we will play with full confidence,” the coach said.

While all the key players will be available for the quarterfinals clash, Manpreet Juneja — who suffered an injury in the previous match — will miss out.

BCCI explains stance

On Thursday, the BCCI’s General Manager, Cricket Operations, Syed Saba Karim, had written to the state associations requesting them to host the quarterfinal fixture in the headquarters as that would lessen the travel time for the teams. While the other three associations will be hosting the games in the headquarters, Kerala Cricket Association had to host the fixture in Wayanad instead of Kochi or Thiruvananthapuram.

“There is an India A match (against the England Lions) in Thiruvananthapuram and the women’s U-23 championships is happening in Kochi. That’s why we had to organise the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals in Wayanad,” Karim told Sportstar.