The gloomy weather threatening a heavy spell of rain presents a contrasting picture of an upbeat mood in the Hyderabad team as it takes on Maharashtra in the Ranji Trophy, four-day season opener, at Gymkhana Ground here on Friday.

With Rajiv Gandhi Stadium hosting the T20 international between India and Australia on October 13, the Ranji match is being held at Gymkhana where even one spell of heavy rain could well play spoil-sport. In fact, rains in the last few days have left many damp patches on the wicket, forcing the teams to the indoor nets at Uppal Stadium today.

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But, on the cricketing front, a confident Hyderabad captain Ambati Rayudu is keen to ensuring a winning start to his stint as Ranji captain with his ‘home’ State (after playing for Vidarbha last season).

Hyderabad’s all-round strength makes it clear favourites at home. And, in bowler-friendly conditions, pacers Ravi Kiran, Chama Milind, Sudeep Tyagi and Md. Mudassir can pose a serious challenge to any batting line-up.

Interestingly, the home team is still banking on the return of left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha into its fold (his request for a NOC from Cricket Association of Bengal to play for Hyderabad this season is still pending) as early as possible and interestingly, he has been training with the team.

On the other hand, Kedar Jadhav and Ankit Bawne the lead performers last season will be missing the start for Maharashtra due to national commitments. But skipper Rahul Tripathi has every reason to be optimistic as he still has someone like Harshad Khadiwale, Chirag Khurana, Swapnil Gugale, who can score big on their day.

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In bowling, it will miss the services of last season’s highest wicket-taker (43) Anupam Sanklecha, who is injured, and the new ball attack will be led by Nikit Dhumal, Pradeep Dadhe and Vishal Gite. In the spin department, left-armer Akshay Darekar, who returned with a match-winning spell of eight for 20 against Hyderabad at Uppal Stadium here in 2011, and offie Ruturaj Gaikwad can take charge once there are early breakthroughs.


Hyderabad: A.T. Rayudu (C), Akshat Reddy, Tanmay Agarwal, B. Sandeep, K. Sumanth (wk), Ashish Reddy, Akash Bhandari, Mehdi Hassan, Saketh Sai Ram, M. Ravi Kiran, Amol Shinde, Rohit Rayudu, Sudeep Tyagi, Mohd Mudassir and Chama Milind. Coach: Arun Kumar.

Maharashtra: Rahul Tripathi (C), Harshad Khadiwale, Swapnil Gugale, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Prayag Bhati, Chirag Khurana, Jagdish Zope, Akshay Darekar, Rohit Motwani (wk), Srikanth Mundhe, Samad Fallah, Pradeep Dadhe, Vishal Gite and Nikit Dhumal.