Ranji Trophy, Gujarat vs Goa: A mismatch in the offing

Having topped the top tier in style, Gujarat will be bidding to dash past Goa, which entered the quarterfinal from the Plate Group.

Amit Verma and Parthiv Patel

Goa captain Amit Verma (left) alongside Gujarat skipper Parthiv Patel (right).   -  Special Arrangement

Moments after he finished multiple wicketkeeping drills and had a short stint with the willow at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Stadium in this tiny coastal town, Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel waved at Sairaj Bahutule. The Gujarat coach joined him in and the duo engaged in a round of sprints together in the searing heat.

Having topped the top tier in style — five outright wins in eight league games — Gujarat will be gunning to dash past Goa in a Ranji Trophy quarterfinal that appears to be a mismatch of sorts, thanks to the BCCI’s inexplicable decision to let a Plate Group team have a go against the big teams in the knockouts.

Goa hasn’t lost points all through the league stage, winning seven games outright and two on the basis of first-innings lead. In fact, its tally of 50 points is the highest by any team in the league. But the fact remains that Goa was relegated after a poor show in Group C last season and competed against a majority of newbies in a group that primarily runs on professional cricketers.

Leading from the front

Goa’s case is no different as captain Amit Verma, the Ranji Trophy champion from Karnataka, was roped in from Assam at the start of the season, with former Karnataka and India speedster Dodda Ganesh taking over as coach. Verma led from the front, scoring almost 800 runs and picking 40-plus wickets with his effective legbreaks.

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Joining him is Smit Patel, the other professional, who was Parthiv’s understudy at Gujarat not too long ago. Having featured in the floodlit Duleep Trophy final in 2018, Smit and Verma are the only Goa cricketers to have played five-day matches, which is a different proposition.

‘Nothing to lose’

“Obviously, our primary target was to top the group and get promoted to Group C. With that achieved, we have nothing to lose and I hope the young bunch puts up a spirited fight in the big match,” Verma told Sportstar on Wednesday.

Despite Gujarat being rank favourites, Parthiv stressed there was no question of complacency creeping in. “It’s satisfying to see how we have bounced back after two bad matches in the middle stage. I think we are peaking at the right time and despite Goa being a Plate team, since this is a quarterfinal, we are not going to take any team lightly now.”

STATS BOX
  • This is the first meeting ever between Gujarat and Goa in Ranji Trophy.
  • Parthiv Patel is 12 runs short of crossing 11,000 First-Class runs

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