Ranji Trophy: In-form Andhra takes on Tripura

The teams meet in their Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Maharaja Bir Bikram University stadium here on Thursday.

Tripura’s seamers can be a handful in helpful conditions.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Andhra, on the back of an eight-wicket win against Madhya Pradesh last week, should be more than a handful for Tripura when the two meet in their Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Maharaja Bir Bikram University stadium here on Thursday.

For the host, it has been a season of missed opportunities, some of its own making and others beyond its control. The recent outing against Baroda had Tripura falling short by 85 in the first innings but reducing the former to 85 for six in the second.

The batting prowess of imports Smit Patel (158) and Yashpal Singh (90) was substantial in that chase, while Abhijit Sarkar’s bags of three for 88 and five for 18 lent teeth to the pace attack.

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Now on home turf, Tripura’s speedsters could dent the visitor’s batting, especially if the former was to bowl first. M. B. Murasingh, the home side captain, felt a concerted effort could turn things its way, with the side doing well in some areas and not so in others. Assessing the opposition, he said Andhra was a better side in some respects while his own men were nothing less on the other counts. “If we can target some of their key players, we can wrest the initiative,” said the seasoned swing and seam bowler.

Competition

Andhra coach Sanath Kumar acknowledged Tripura was a much improved team. Little separated most of the sides in the tournament itself, he said. He banked on the bench strength of his squad for a favourable result, with all 15 members pushing each other for a place.

P. Vijay Kumar, with over 200 wickets behind him, didn’t make the squad in the last game. “Prithvi Raj has made a big difference while B. Sumanth and Ashwin Hebbar have been performing well, too. So are Pranith and Karthik Raman, who are in rousing form, unable to break in. A bowler of the calibre of Ch. Stephen is not in the squad what with K. V. Sasikanth and Bandaru Ayyappa making the most of the opportunities,” said Sanath.

It will be Yashpal’s 100th Ranji game; the former Services player has compiled over 8,000 runs thus far. The sporting wicket should aid the seamers initially, then the batsmen and the spinners towards the close. Shade from dense foliage of the trees, around some of which the galleries have been built, would provide fine seating for spectators if not a post-card pretty setting.

The teams (from):

Tripura: M. B. Murasingh (c), Udiyan Bose, Smit Patel (wk), Joydeep Banik (wk), Yashpal Singh, Gurinder Singh, Rajat Dey, Bishal Ghosh, Samrat Singha, Abhijit Sarkar, Ajay Sarkar, Rana Datta, Joydeep Bhattacharjee, Saurabh Das, Dwaipayan Bhattacharjee.

Coach: Anuj Pal Dass. Manager: Ashis Choudhury.

Andhra: G. H. Vihari (captain), K. S. Bharat (wk), D. B. Prasanth Kumar, Ricky Bhui, N. Jyothi Sai Krishna, B. Sumanth, M. Pranith, D. B. Ravi Teja, Ashwin Hebbar, P. Vijay Kumar, B. Ayyappa, K. V. Sasikanth, I. Karthik Raman, Bhargav Bhatt, Y. Prithvi Raj, Shoaib Mohammad Khan.

Coach: Sanath Kumar. Manager: M.S. Kumar.

Umpires: Sanjeev Dua, Tapan Sharma. Match referee: Nitin Goel.

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