Ranji Trophy: Host Kerala takes on Andhra; eyes first win

Kerala after drawing its first game would be keen for an outright win when it hosts depleted Andhra in round two of Ranji Trophy.

Kerala coach Dav Whatmore overseeing net session ahead of the team's match against Andhra.   -  S. Mahinsha

Kerala, notwithstanding all the positives emerging from the fine form displayed by its batsmen, will be looking to leave the drawn match against Hyderabad behind, as the side lock horns with Andhra in the Ranji Trophy Elite Pool B match at the St. Xavier’s cricket stadium, Thumba, from Monday.

The home side certainly was on the hunt for the crucial first innings lead having put up a mammoth total of 495 for six declared before incessant rain and defensive batting by the Hyderabad middle-order stopped it from achieving its objective.

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Now with the sun out in all its glory, the host as it gets back into match mode will also be seeking to avenge its rather dramatic defeat at the hands of Andhra in the Vijay Hazare Trophy early this season. Kerala in all likelihood is to play the same eleven.

The side, of course, will be rooting for a repeat performance by its top order including skipper Sachin Baby and V.A. Jagadeesh, the centurions of the last week’s encounter - hoping its bowling brigade comprising Sandeep Warrier, Basil Thampi, Jalaj Saxena, Akshay Chandran and K.C. Akshay too rise up to the occasion.

Andhra which took three points against Punjab in the first round, however, can never be treated as mere pushover. Even when it would be missing the services of two of its stalwart players – skipper G. Hanuma Vihari and wicket-keeper-batsman K.S. Bharat – both away on national duty for the India A squad.

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In the absence of Vihari, it will B. Sumanth who will be in charge as Andhra would like the momentum going. The side was steered out of trouble against Punjab by the stylish right-handed batsman Ricky Bhui who with his great knock of 181 was instrumental in giving Andhra the crucial lead. The places offered by the non-availability of Vihari and Bharat has been taken by P. Girinath Reddy and G. Manish, though it would be Siva Charan Singh who will be standing behind the wickets in this match.

Andhra to match up its strong battling line-up has also an impressive array of bowlers, especially the tweakers who could come into play as the match progresses.

The squads (from):

Kerala: Sachin Baby (capt), K.B. Arun Karthick, Jalaj S. Saxena, Rohan Prem, Sanju V. Samson (wk), V. A. Jagadeesh, Salman Nizar, Akshay Chandran, Sandeep Warrier, Basil Thampi, K.C. Akshay, Vishnu Vinod, P. Rahul, M.D. Nidheesh, Vinoop S. Manoharan.

Andhra: B. Sumanth (capt), Ashwin Hebbar, Imandi Karthik Raman, Ricky Bhui, Karn Sharma, Ayyappa Bandaru, D.B. Prasanth Kumar, P. Vijay Kumar, Shoib Mohammed Khan, Siva Charan Singh (wk), D. B. Ravi Teja, K.V. Sasikanth, P. Girinath Reddy, G. Manish, Jyothi Krishna, C.V. Stephen.