Ranji Trophy: Resurgent Goa takes on revamped Kerala

A revamped Kerala will take on a resurgent Goa in the four-day Ranji Trophy Pool ‘C’ match starting at the Brabourne stadium here on Sunday, a tie so crucial for both the sides in more ways than one.

The morale of the players seemed not to have been affected by the sudden turn of events as the side led by Rohan Prem went through the paces of a long workout on Saturday morning.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

A revamped Kerala will take on a resurgent Goa in the four-day Ranji Trophy Pool ‘C’ match starting at the Brabourne stadium here on Sunday, a tie so crucial for both the sides in more ways than one.

The surgical strike applied by its selection committee a couple of days ago has left Kerala with a new coach in former Indian seamer Tinu Yohannan and a transformed side which had been doing duty for the State through its earlier five matches in 10-team league with the induction of five under-23 players.

The reason doled out for the major overhaul has been the inability shown by the side which was coached by P. Balachandran to win any of its earlier matches though Kerala had the first innings lead in four of the five matches. However, the morale of the players seemed not to have been affected by the sudden turn of events as the side led by Rohan Prem went through the paces of a long workout on Saturday morning.

Kerala is currently placed fifth with a tally of 12 points and understandably a win against Goa will propel the side well into reckoning for qualification. But to do so it will require a consistent performance from its senior players as the youngsters now drafted into the side and who are to be capped for the first time are quite likely to be overawed by the occasion.

Goa, in contrast, should be approaching the match in a happier frame of mind having won convincingly against Chattisgarh last week and gaining an invaluable six points to boost its tally to 10 points. This win could not have come at a better time as the Goans were really reeling well in the bottom of the points table with losses against Jammu & Kashmir and Hyderabad after surrendering the first innings lead to Tripura earlier on.

The side led by Sagun Kamat could thus provide several anxious moments for Kerala, which is now the only side, besides lowly Services, not to have a win against its name in the group, as it looks forward to continue on with its winning spree and more importantly to prove that its performance in the last match was by no means a flash in the pan.

Squads:

Kerala: Rohan Prem (capt.), Bhavin J. Thakkar, Vishnu Vinod, Mohammed Azharuddeen, Salman Nizar, Akshay Chandran, K. C. Akshay, Fahid Ahmed, Sachin Baby, Sanju Samson, Sandeep Warrier, Iqbal Abdullah, K. Monish, Basil Thampi and Vimal Kumar.

Goa: Sagun Kamat (capt.), Harshad Hanumant Gadekar, Felix Alemao, Amit Yadav, Sumiran Amonkar, Swapnil Asnodkar, Saurab Bandekar, Amogh Sunil Desai, Samar Dubhashi, Shadab Jakati, Snehal Kauthankar, Darshan Misal, Amulaya Pandrekar, Rituraj Singh and Kennan Waz.