Ranji Trophy: Struggling Kerala takes on champion Vidarbha

Kerala has just nine points from seven games, one more than Madhya Pradesh. Hyderabad, with six points, is languishing at the bottom.

Bright spot: Salman Nizar has been the only Kerala batsmen who has shown any semblance of consistency.

Kerala’s dismal campaign in the Ranji Trophy is coming to an end. Jalaj Saxena’s men are placed second from the bottom going into their last match, against defending champion Vidarbha starting here on Tuesday.

It has just nine points from seven games, one more than Madhya Pradesh. Hyderabad, with six points, is languishing at the bottom. Two teams — from the 18 of Groups A and B combined — with the least points will be relegated to Group C next season. So Kerala, Hyderabad and Madhya Pradesh are all rather precariously placed.

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Madhya Pradesh has two games in hand, while for the others, this round of matches is the last for the season. So Kerala just cannot afford to be sloppy

For Kerala to make a match of it, its batsmen need to apply themselves. Only Salman Nizar has shown any semblance of consistency.

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The absence of Sanju Samson, who is away in New Zealand on National duty, has added to the team’s woes. With seamer Sandeep Warrier also in New Zealand (with India A squad) and Basil Thampi injured, the bowling is also depleted.

Vidarbha hasn’t had a great season, either. The reigning champion has been able to post only two wins and is placed eighth in the table. But with one match in hand, it still could hope to take one of the top five slots and qualify for the quarterfinals.

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