Uttar Pradesh: Hoping for a better season

For Uttar Pradesh, nothing seemed to work right, as it finished seventh in the nine-team group last year.

Kuldeep Yadav turned in a wonderful all-round performance for Uttar Pradesh last season. With 35 wickets and 466 runs he was both the highest wicket-taker and run-getter for his team.   -  PTI

Uttar Pradesh was drawn in a tough group from which Gujarat would make history. Mumbai was as strong as ever, but there was resistance from teams like Tamil Nadu, Punjab and Bengal. A consistent outfit like Baroda did not rise to expectations, and Gujarat made the most of it.

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For Uttar Pradesh, nothing seemed to work right, as it finished seventh in the nine-team group. It began the season on a poor note, losing by an innings to Madhya Pradesh. Draws against Tamil Nadu and Bengal allowed the team to settle down, but consecutive defeats to Gujarat, Punjab and Mumbai completely demoralised the dressing room. Uttar Pradesh’s only victory came against Railways in the penultimate round of the Group A fixtures, and it finished the tournament with a draw against Baroda.

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Suresh Raina was available for only three matches, and that, to a large extent, jeopardised the team’s batting.

Veteran Praveen Kumar figured in only two matches, as Uttar Pradesh tried to raise a team of newcomers. Left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav (35 wickets) and medium-pacer Imtiaz Ahmed (25 wickets) served the team well, but Uttar Pradesh was let down by its batsmen who lacked consistency.

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Yadav was also the top run-getter with an aggregate of 466 runs. The season underlined Uttar Pradesh’s need to put more faith in the youngsters.

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Suresh Raina (captain): “We are looking forward to a good season. We are in a tough group but we have some good youngsters who can be expected to perform. Consistency will be the key, obviously. We have had a decent preparatory camp and aim to exploit the home conditions to stake our claims.”

Last season: Failed to qualify for the knock-out.

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