Ranji Trophy: Buoyant Kerala takes on struggling Rajasthan

A buoyant Kerala will be aiming for its second consecutive win in the tournament when it takes on a depleted Rajasthan side in the Ranji Trophy.

An upbeat Kerala side will take on Rajasthan in the Ranji Trophy.   -  K. V. S. Giri

A buoyant Kerala will be aiming for its second consecutive win in the tournament when it takes on a depleted Rajasthan side in the Ranji Trophy Elite Group A match at the KCA-St.Xavier’s College ground on Sunday.

After securing its first win of the season in a tight match against Punjab, Kerala is brimming with confidence. The former champion Rajasthan, after losing three straight matches, opened its account by taking the first-innings lead against Gujarat in the last contest.

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The visitor will have its task cut out against Kerala which will be looking to cash in on the home advantage. The track is progressively expected to aid slow bowlers and Rajasthan will miss the young leg spinner Rahul Chahar, who is away on India-A duty.

With Deepak Chahar injured and Khaleel Ahmed away on India-A assignment, the medium pace department also looks weak. Ashok Menaria and captain Manender Singh’s timely return to form will certainly boost Rajasthan’s batting which has been inconsistent this season.

Kerala suffered a set back when Robin Uthappa was ruled out due to injury. Uthappa, the leading scorer for Kerala this season, hurt his thigh during the match against Punjab and hasn’t fully recovered. Uthappa’s absence is a big blow for Kerala which has struggled to put decent totals on the board this season.

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A lot will depend on in-form batsman Salman Nizar who is certain to earn a promotion in the batting order. Opener P. Rahul and medium-pacer K.M. Asif, both of whom missed the last match due to injuries, have recovered and are fit for selection. Jalaj Saxena will again be the key bowler. Captain Sachin Baby hinted at changes in the bowling department and leg spinner S. Midhun may get a look in.

"We have the momentum on our side and we are keen to continue it against Rajasthan. We are confident that we can beat Rajasthan. But we are not taking them lightly. They are a good side. Our bowlers have done well for us this season and it is up to our batters to compliment them," he said.

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