Ranji Trophy: Spirited Andhra ready to host in-form MP

MP has secured an outright win against Baroda, a draw against Mumbai and a 10-wicket victory against Tripura in its Ranji Trophy campaign so far. Andhra has secured a first innings lead in all three matches it has played this season.

Andhra is eyeing its first win in the Ranji Trophy 2017-2018.   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

If the number of wins provides impetus to increased success ahead, Madhya Pradesh seems to be on a firmer footing when Group C’s current topper takes on second-placed Andhra in their Ranji Trophy cricket match at the Dr. P.V.G. Raju-Andhra Cricket Association Complex from Wednesday.

MP coach Harvinder Singh Sodhi has put behind an outright win against Baroda and a 10-wicket victory against Tripura. “We are starting from scratch,” he said, “taking it one game at a time.” Being their first match at this ground, he said, “We respect the opposition’s batting strength and need to plan accordingly.”

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The former MP all-rounder banked on his balanced side continuing with its good form. Skipper Devendra Bundela, his deputy Harpreet Singh, seasoned hand Naman Ojha, Shubham Sharma and Rajat Patidar were in fine nick as were Ishwar Pandey, Ankit Sharma and Mihir Hirwani among the wickets. The young Avesh Khan held out a lot of promise too.

Andhra has acquitted itself well against three Elite squads, viz., Tamil Nadu, Baroda and Orissa. Wresting the first innings lead against each of them, the host came agonisingly close to victory against the last mentioned side at this very venue in its last outing.

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That game should do wonders for the home side, when it comes to boosting morale, what with skipper Hanuma Vihari cracking a triple century. “The batting form of D.B. Prasanth, Ricky Bhui and K.S. Bharat will be ably complemented by B. Sumanth bolstering the middle order,” said Andhra Manager M.S. Kumar.

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While Bhargav Bhatt has been Andhra bowling’s mainstay, debutant Y. Prithvi Raj’s fine showing against TN, good performances from Karthik Raman and Shoaib Md. Khan are also causes for cheer. Incidentally, the host’s lower order can contribute with the bat too. K.S. Bharat has done good work behind the woodwork, especially against big guns like Baroda and TN, besides launching the innings well as opener.

Not being far from the sea, it’s warm and humid here. The square’s known to favour the batsmen, Andhra’s 584 for five declared against Odisha in the most recent fixture being but one indication. It’s a slow turner too, offering hope to the spinners.

The teams (from):
  • Madhya Pradesh: Devendra Bundela (captain), Harpreet Singh (vice-captain), Naman Ojha (wicket-keeper), Aditya Shrivastava, Rajat Patidar, Shubham Sharma, Ankit Sharma, Ishwar Pandey, Mihir Hirwani, Chandrakant Sakure, Saransh Jain, Avesh Khan, Puneet Datey, Waseem Ahmed, Anshul Tripathi, Ankit Dane. Coach: Harvinder Singh Sodhi. Manager: Abbas Ali.
  • Andhra: G. Hanuma Vihari (captain), K.S. Bharat (vice-captain, wicket-keeper), 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 Bhat, Y. Pruthvi Raj, Shoaib Mohammad Khan, U.M.S. Girinath. Coach: Sanath Kumar. Manager: M.S. Kumar.
  • Match officials: Match referee: Valmik Buch. Umpires: Navdeep Singh, Virender Sharma.

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