Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Andhra test for beleaguered Rajasthan

Having lost both its matches by big margins, Rajasthan will look to open its account in the new year at home against a strong side in Andhra.

Having hit already two centuries, Ricky Bhui has been in fine form this season.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

Beleaguered Rajasthan will look to open its account in the Ranji Trophy this season when it faces Andhra in a Group A contest at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Friday.

The team is yet to garner a single point having lost both its matches by big margins. This is in stark contrast to its performance in the group stage of the previous season, albeit against weaker opponents in Group C; it won seven matches out of nine, and lost none, to storm into the quarterfinals.

The batting has let the side down; across four innings, all 40 wickets were lost and 260 has been its highest total. There has not been a single century scored by any of the batsmen. No. 3 Mahipal Lomror has been the only one to show some form, with two half-centuries, including a 97. 

Robin Bist, the captain, has a highest score of 37 in four innings and will hope to turn the tide in the new year.

The pace attack — comprising Khaleel Ahmed, Tanveer-ul-Haq and Aniket Choudhary — is potent but hasn't been very effective. Ferocious, incisive spells, especially early on, will be expected from the trio once again.

Two members of Andhra's unheralded seam attack, on the other hand, have been among the wickets. Left-armer C. V. Stephen (16 wickets) and K. V. Sasikanth (14 wickets) have helped their team nestle in the top 10 of the points table for teams from Groups A and B. Sasikanth was especially menacing in the contest against Delhi last month, taking 10 wickets.

The stylish Ricky Bhui has also been in good form, continuing from where he left off in the previous season, when he scored 775 runs in eight matches. He has already struck two centuries.

Yet, the attention will also be on Hanuma Vihari, whose only innings of note thus far has been a crafty 83 against Vidarbha. Possessing a solid technique, Vihari has the wherewithal to provide resistance if his team is inserted in on a fresh surface in nippy conditions.

The team will be keen to avoid a batting collapse of the kind it encountered in Kolkata in its last contest. The middle-order was blown away by Bengal's Ishan Porel, and it couldn't recover, managing only 181.

SQUADS

Rajasthan: Robin Bist (c), Ashok Menaria, Chetan Bist (wk), Mahipal Lomror, Rajesh Bishnoi Senior, Salman Khan, Shubham Sharma, Khalil Ahmed, Tanveer-Ul-Haq, Rituraj Singh, Aditya Gadwal, Yash Kothari, Aniket Choudhary, C. P. Singh, Ramniwas Golara.

Andhra: Hanuma Vihari (c), K. S. Bharat, D. Swaroop Kumar, D. B. Prashant, Sumanth, Md. Shoaib Khan, K. V. Sasikanth, Y. Prithvi Raj, S. Md. Rafi, C. V. Stephen, Ricky Bhui, Jyothi Sai, P. Vijay Kumar, Gnaneswar, B. Ayyappa, Karan Shinde.

 

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