Vijay Hazare Trophy: Focus on Dhoni as Jharkhand takes on Karnataka

Studded with proven performers, such as Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi, Varun Aaron and Shahbaz Nadeem, Ranji Trophy semi-finalist Jharkhand is a rising force in domestic cricket. Under Dhoni’s leadership, the young side will have its tail up.

Jharkhand captain M. S. Dhoni shares a light moment with Karnataka’s Robin Uthappa in Kolkata on Friday.   -  Photo: PTI

 

Even though Mahendra Singh Dhoni may appear to be the enemy No. 1 for Karnataka in its Vijay Hazare Trophy Group D opener against Jharkhand at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday, the Manish Pandey-led side will have to take into account the combined prowess of their opponent.

Studded with proven performers, such as Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi, Varun Aaron and Shahbaz Nadeem, Ranji Trophy semi-finalist Jharkhand is a rising force in domestic cricket. Under Dhoni’s leadership, the young side will have its tail up.

Manish understands the value of Dhoni’s wicket and its overall impact on a match. “You know how great a batsman M.S. is. It is always nice to take M.S. out as early as possible. That will be an advantage for us. We do have our plans set for him but it is all about disciplined bowling and how we conduct ourselves on the ground,” said Manish on Friday.

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“My team is a mix of youngsters and experienced players like Robin (Uthappa), (Sreenath) Aravind and Vinay (Kumar). We are hoping for a good tournament.”

Uthappa, who will don the wicketkeeper’s gloves in the absence of an unfit C.M. Gautam, has come back after recuperating from a back issue, while Vinay, who is travelling with the team, is going through the rehab process and should be fit to play midway through the tournament.

Manish got hit on his left knee while batting at the nets on Friday, but said he should be fine to play the first match.

Sticking to strengths

At the Jadavpur University ground, Ranji Trophy quarterfinalist Hyderabad will start its campaign against the Pervez Rasool-led Jammu and Kashmir.

Hyderabad skipper S. Badrinath said the team’s primary target is to play good cricket and stick to its strengths instead of bothering about the opposition.

Badrinath was happy the way the young side had responded so far this season. “When I and (coach) Bharat Arun took over, we needed to instil self-belief in the players. Earlier they were trying not to lose and now they are trying to win. The confidence is high and we want to keep the momentum going.”

Even as the core of the team, comprising Akshath Reddy, B. Anirudh, B. Sandeep, C.V. Milind and Mohammed Siraj, remains the same, the presence of some rookies, such as Tanay Thyagarajan and Rohit Rayudu, may give the team management scope to experiment.

Saurashtra will meet Services in Kalyani on Saturday, while Chhattisgarh, captained by Mohammad Kaif, will play its first match against Jharkhnad at the Eden on Sunday.