After three wins in the first three matches of the Deodhar Trophy, South Zone finds itself on top of the table, tied on points with East Zone with a better net run rate. While South’s bowling attack has been the key to their success, the batting effort has been led by openers skipper Mayank Agarwal and his deputy Rohan Kunnummal.
While Agarwal is a proven performer, having played for the country, Kunnummal was the aggressor in the two matches against North and North East, scoring quick half-centuries and giving the innings momentum at the start.
“It’s been good so far, and I am getting into a good rhythm. It feels so nice to win matches for my team,” said Kunnummal, playing his first tournament in six months.
The Kerala opener had a breakthrough season in 2021-22 in the Ranji Trophy with three centuries. He then got a century in Duleep Trophy last year, making it four consecutive First-Class tons and was part of the India A tour to Bangladesh.
However, after a promising start in the Vijay Hazare last year, where he scored two centuries and finished as the highest run-scorer for Kerala, he had a tough season. He had a poor stint in the Ranji Trophy, where he missed two matches due to an illness, scoring just one fifty in five games and did not get picked for the IPL either.
“Last year, I often had fevers and became incredibly tired, which meant I could not recover quickly,” said the 25-year-old. “I was a bit disappointed (not getting into IPL) because I was expecting it,” he added.
The snub also prompted him to re-orient his approach for the upcoming season. “Every year, I used to set targets, and last year it was to do well in Muhstaq Ali and get into the IPL. But now, I do not want to think too far ahead. Sometimes, you have to accept you won’t get runs every season, but we must have the same work ethic.”
Explaining the areas he focused on during the long off-season, Kunnummal said, “I worked a lot on my fitness. KCA has good facilities where I can do my skills training. So I focused on my balance. I need to be still while hitting, which I have worked hard on and has come off well in this tournament.”
Sai Sudharsan in for Padikkal
Meanwhile, TN batter B. Sai Sudharsan will replace Devdutt Padikkal in the South Zone squad after the latter injured his finger during the match against North East. The 21-year-old TN batter had a good outing for India A in the ACC Men’s Emerging Cup in Sri Lanka earlier this month. He scored a century against Pakistan A and finished as the third-highest run-getter for the team.
Sunday’s fixtures: East Zone vs South Zone, CAP Ground 2; Central Zone vs North East Zone, CAP Ground 3, (both 9 a.m.); *North Zone vs West Zone, Siechem Stadium, 1.30 p.m. *live on www.bcci.tv
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