Vijay Hazare Trophy: Chhattisgarh faces stiff challenge in Saurashtra

Chhattisgarh will face a stiff challenge when it hosts a full-fledged Saurashtra side in the Vijay Hazare Trophy on Monday.

Saurashtra's Ravindra Jadeja trains ahead of Monday's clash against Chhattisgarh.   -  K. V. S. GIRI

The intensity in preparations of some of the familiar names like Ravindra Jadeja, Cheteshwar Pujara, Jaydev Unadkat on the eve of the Group D matches of the Vijay Hazare Trophy (one-day) cricket tournament here might be an indication of the seriousness with which the players look forward to this event.

It was an interesting sight to see Jadeja and Pujara share a few thoughts in the “art of big hits” as the former was repeatedly demonstrating to his Saurashtra teammate in their extended batting sessions at Gymkhana Ground. The full-strength Saurashtra which includes the likes of Robin Uthappa, Unadkat and Sheldon Jackson can also be a reminder of how seriously the teams are taking this championship.

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“No team can be taken lightly especially in a one-day format even as we believe in the all-round strength of our team. We have solid depth in batting and lot of variety in bowling too and will naturally stay focussed to achieve the objective of making it to the knock-out phase (the top two teams from this group will make it),” said Saurashtra coach Sitanshu Kotak.

For many young talents like Vidarbha’s find of the season Rajneesh Gurbani, this championship provided a perfect platform to serve a reminder of sorts to the selectors with some stand-out performances.

The home team will miss the presence of captain Ambati Rayudu (who has been banned for the first two matches on grounds of indiscipline during the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament in Vizag last month) as it aims to end the season on a high after a disappointing Ranji campaign.

Pacer Mohd. Siraj, who was out of the reckoning after featuring in the India T-20 squad, said it is a huge opportunity to show that he has improved his game, which he also said is the reason behind him being picked by the Royal Challengers Bengaluru for this year’s IPL.

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With the temperatures soaring in the city, it will be a serious test of talent, endurance and skills as the players try to outsmart the opposition.

The Group D matches starting here from Monday feature Ranji champion Vidarbha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir, Saurashtra, Services and Hyderabad.

Monday’s schedule: Chhattisgarh vs Saurashtra (Gymkhana Ground), Hyderabad vs Services (Uppal Stadium), Vidarbha vs Jharkhand (AOC Centre Thapar Stadium).

 

For the young Mubin Ali of Hyderabad Cricket Academy of Excellence, it was a ‘knock’ to remember thanks to a wonderful gesture from Sir Ravindra Jadeja!

The 21-year-old, off-spinner, who was summoned along with a couple of other local players to help the Saurashtra team preparing for the Group D matches of the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day tournament commencing at different venues here on Monday, took a terrible blow when one of the powerful strokes from Jadeja had him tumbling down on to the ground in pain as the ball hit him on the right side of his neck.

A visibly concerned Jadeja, along with Cheteshwar Pujara rushed to the young bowler and comforted him with morale-boosting words. Immediate medical aid was ensured which fortunately saw the student of CMR Engineering College get up soon and walk too.

And, at the end of it all, it turned out to be a memorable morning despite the hard blow as Jadeja presented him an autographed bat to his delight.

“He just told me to cheer up and also advised me to stick to a good line and length by tossing the ball a little bit up,” Mubin told Sportstar later, proudly showing the bat which he says “will be a priceless position”.

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