It will be a new beginning for Kerala when it takes on a gritty Goa in a fourth-round match of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament at the KCA-St. Xavier’s College ground on Tuesday.
Sanju Samson’s non-availability has forced a promotion to vice-captain Sijomon Joseph, who will lead the side against Goa, while opener Rohan Kunnummal has been given additional responsibility as the vice-captain. The team will miss Samson as a batter and captain but Kerala coach Tinu Yohannan wants the boys to take up additional responsibility and perform under pressure.
The coach also believes in setting the right atmosphere for the players to blossom and has backed the youngsters.
“We will be playing to our strengths. At this level there are no easy opponents and we are not taking Goa lightly. But we need to play good cricket consistently over the next four days. We will miss Sanju but it is up to the boys to grab the opportunity and perform,,” said Yohannan.
Kerala, which is leading the group with 13 points, will be keen to continue the momentum against Goa, which is yet to register a win in the tournament. Kerala’s top order batters have shown consistency this season. Sachin Baby has struck a purple patch this season while veteran Rohan Prem has contributed with the bat at number three. Openers Kunnummal and P. Rahul showed good form in the match against Chhattisgarh. The spin trio of Jalaj Saxena, Vaisakh Chandran and Joseph will have a big role to play in this match as well.
Goa captain Darshan Mishal is confident that his team has enough firepower to counter the host.
“The wicket will produce result and will aid spin. We have good off-spinners and I expect them to do the job for us. Our batters Suyash Prabhudessai and Siddhesh Lad are in good form. Personally I am happy with the way I have batted this season. We have players for all conditions. We know Sanju won’t be here and will try to exploit the weakness in the Kerala middle-order. Jalaj Saxena has been terrific for Kerala this season and if we can neutralise his threat then we will be able to control the match,” said Mishal.