Resurgent Vidarbha lock horns with steely Saurashtra

With Mumbai being the sole surviving superpower in the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals, ‘minnows’ Saurashtra and Vidarbha will seek to take their campaigns to the next level when they meet at the Andhra Cricket Association North Zone Academy ground here on Wednesday.

Vidarbha will be looking upto skipper Badrinath to be among the runs.   -  R. V. Moorthy

With Mumbai being the sole surviving superpower in the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals, ‘minnows’ Saurashtra and Vidarbha will seek to take their campaigns to the next level when they meet at the Andhra Cricket Association North Zone Academy ground here on Wednesday.

“The minnows making such headway is a healthy sign for first class cricket and proves that smaller units are definitely developing,” said S. Badrinath. The Vidarbha skipper had enough reason to be elated. “We’ve qualified in all three formats. As a leader, it has been more gratifying to see that I’ve helped two or three others bring out their best, than merely scoring the runs myself.”

The swashbuckler was referring to his off-spinner Akshay Wakhare, the highest wicket-taker in the nation’s premier domestic tournament and opener Faiz Fazal, who had recorded a splendid century in the Deodhar Trophy final for India A.

Seamer’s paradise?

“The pitch with even grass cover should slant towards the seamers for the first three days,” was Badrinath’s forecast for the five-day battle ahead. “I won’t say that for sure though, since I have not played here before,” the seasoned hand qualified. Curator K. Naga Mallaiah affirmed it was a result-oriented wicket.

Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak saw a good five-day surface in the strip. “The top layer should get harder which may not produce much turn,” he believed. “Vidharbha is a good all round side and any team getting this far cannot be taken lightly. We have two outright wins on green wickets but our endeavour has been to build a side that has resources for any kind of surface,” he stressed.

On the impending contest he reiterated disciplined cricket is key to success. “While not thinking too far ahead, I’ll say that a team effort, more than individual performance, has brought us so far,” Kotak concluded.

In the final count, it will be Vidarbha’s rousing current form against a solid, steely Saurashtra.

The teams:

Saurashtra: Jaydev Shah (captain), Cheteshwar Pujara, Sheldon Jackson, Arpit Vasavada, Sagar Jogiani, Dharmendra Jadeja, Chirag Jani, Jaydev Unadkat, Kamlesh Makwana, Vandit Jivrajani, Avi Barot, Mohsin Dodiya, Dipak Punia, Shaurya Sanandiya, Hardik Rathod. Coach: Sitanshu Kotak. Manager: Dr. Arjunsinh Rana.

Vidarbha: S. Badrinath (captain), Wasim Jaffer, Umesh Yadav, Faiz Fazal, Satish Ganesh, Aditya Sarwate, Ravi Jangid, Shreekant Wagh, Ravi Thakur, Akshay Wakhare, Aditya Shanware, Jitesh Sharma (wicket-keeper), Swapnil Bandiwar, Akshay Wadkar, R. Sanjay. Coach: Ranjit Paradkar. Manager: Ashok Upadhyay.

Match referee: Prashant Mahapatra. Umpires: P. Ravikant Reddy, Khalid Saiyed.