Ranji Trophy: Bottom-placed Andhra takes on table-topper MP

Naman Ojha-led Madhya Pradesh would hope to finish off the league engagements on a high against a team which has failed to win a single game this season.

Andhra will once again repose faith in its most consistent batsman this season, Ricky Bhui.   -  V V SUBRAHMANYAM

A confident Madhya Pradesh, table topper with 24 points from seven matches in Group-B, takes on bottom-placed Andhra (11 points from seven games) in the last round of the Ranji Trophy cricket championship at the Holkar Stadium here from Monday.

Naman Ojha-led Madhya Pradesh would hope to finish off the league engagements on a high against a team which has failed to win a single game this season.

The home team’s batting line-up boasts a formidable top-order with Rajat Patidar, Yash Dubey, Shubham Sharma, opener Aryaman Birla and Ojha being the lead performers.

In the bowling department, pacer Avesh Khan, with a rich haul of 35 wickets, holds the key to MP’s fortunes again. He has got good support so far from pacer Kuldeep Sen (22) and left-arm spinner Kumar Karthikeya (13 wickets).

Unfortunately for MP, Ajay Rohera, who scored a world record score of 267 not out against Hyderabad on first-class debut, continues to sit on the bench because of an injury.

On the other hand, Andhra will bank on in-form Ricky Bhui and wicketkeeper-batsman Srikar Bharat, both of whom struck brilliant centuries in the previous game against Hyderabad.

The visitor has an incisive pace attack in captain Ayyappa Bandaru, left-armer Prithvi Raj, K.V. Sasikanth and Girinath Reddy. Off-spinner Shoaib Mohammed Khan (17 wickets) is expected to play a key role.

The teams (from): Madhya Pradesh: Naman Ojha (capt), Aryaman Birla, Anand Singh Bains, Rajat Patidar, Yash Dubey, Shubham Sharma, Punit Date, Gaurav Yadav, Avesh Khan, Ishwar Pandey, Mihir Hirwani, Kumar Karthikeya, Ankie Dani, Kuldeep Sen, Venkatesh Iyer and Anshul Tripathi.

Andhra: Bandaru Ayyappa (capt), Ricky Bhui, D.B. Prashanth Kumar, K.S. Bharat (wk), N. Jyothi Sai Krishna, C.R. Gnaneshwar, K.V. Sasikanth, P. Girinath Reddy, Md. Shoaib Khan, P. Vijay Kumar, Y. Prithvi Raj, Ashwin Hebbar, Ch. Stephen, Karan Shinde, M. Pranith and Shiva Charan Singh.