Ranji Trophy: Andhra looks to capitalise on home advantage

“We know when the ball swings here, what length to bowl and how much time we need to spend in batting and bowling to gain an upperhand,” Andhra captain Bharat said ahead of Ranji Trophy quarterfinal.

Andhra captain K.S. Bharat during a training session on the eve of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Saurashtra in Ongole.   -  V.V. SUBRAHMANYAM

Andhra captain Srikar Bharat hopes his team will continue to work towards its objectives when it takes on Saurashtra in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal here from Wednesday.

“The bowlers have done really well, complemented batters on challenging wickets. We are not thinking too much about anything else except to focus on our strengths,” he said.

“The biggest plus for us is the home advantage for we know when the ball swings here, what length to bowl and how much time we need to spend in batting and bowling to gain an upperhand,” Bharat said.

“The pitch looks 50-50 for batting and bowling and because it is an open ground, the ball will swing right through the match. Discipline is the key,” he said.

"But again, it is important to follow the process rather than looking at results. We still have to give our best in familiar conditions,” he said. The team has had a dip in form, losing the last two matches.

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“I don’t think toss is crucial in a five-day game though the opening partnership in the first session will have a major influence on the game,” the wicketkeeper-batsman said.

“I am not concerned at losing last two games. In a way, they served as an eye-opener to take corrective measures and be better prepared for this quarterfinal. If you give your best, you make any team look ordinary. Even Saurashtra will also look the same way,” Bharat said.

Andhra captain said Hanuma Vihari (now on India duty in New Zealand) will be missed but hopes the boys who get the chance will step on the pedal and chip in.

For his part, Saurashtra coach Niraj Odedra wondered if the match will last a full five days.

“The pitch looks to support fast bowlers. We are not surprised at the choice of the venue. One you are in the top eight and in the knock-out, you have to be prepared for any challenges,” he said. “Yes, we rely a lot on Jaydev our lead wicket-taker this season,” he added.

The Saurashtra coach felt 250-plus should be a challenging total batting first.  “Well, any team which enters the knock-out phase with a win to back will be better off psychologically than losing two games,” he concluded.

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