Ranji Trophy: Assam looks to turn things around

Assam, last season's semifinalist, is hoping for a turnaround when it meets Vidarbha in a Group B match of the Ranji Trophy at the St. Xavier’s College ground on Thursday.

Vidarbha players play a game of football ahead of their match against Assam.   -  M. R. Praveen Chandran

After scaling a peak last season, it has been a downslide for Assam so far. Two consecutive innings defeats was not the ideal start which the team had bargained for after making a maiden semifinal appearance last season.

The north-eastern team is hoping for a turnaround when it meets Vidarbha in a Group B match of the Ranji Trophy at the St. Xavier’s College ground on Thursday.

Assam’s coach, the former Indian Test player Sunil Joshi, admitted that his team fell short in the batting department in both the matches which it lost heavily. In four ininngs this season, Assam crossed 200 only once and was bowled out for a paltry 69 in the last match against Team Rajasthan.

“We had starts but our middle order failed. We are hoping to regroup against Vidarbha. Playing at neutral venues is a challenge for any team as we have to cope with the conditions which are not in our control. Obviously, we will be looking to play positively against Vidarbha,’’ he said.

'Important match'

Captain Gokul Sharma also echoed his coach and said the team was primed up to face Vidarbha and was not taking the opponents lightly.

“We played against Vidarbha last season and beat them to enter the semifinal. Obviously, it is an important match for us. But we know how good Vidarbha is and we are not taking them for granted. There is no excuse we failed collectively as a unit in the earlier matches. We have worked hard and done everything we could off the field and it is matter of executing it during the match,” he said.

On the other hand, the mood in Vidarbha camp is upbeat. Captain Faiz Fazal said his team was hoping to take advantage of Assam’s poor form but was wary of his opponent’s ability to bounce back.

“There are no easy matches in Ranji Trophy. Assam looks a bit down on confidence but the team has players who can turn things around. I think the pitch at the St.Xavier’s ground is a good one. We will be looking for a win. We were a bit disappointed as we couldn’t get full points against Odisha. We hope to make amends here,” he said.

The St.Xavier’s College ground, which is hosting its first Ranji Trophy match, has come in for praise from both teams although the virgin pitch remains a mystery.

The teams

Assam: Gokul Sharma (captain), Abu Nechim Ahmed,, K.B. Arun Karthik, Amit Verma, Arup Das, Swarupam Purkayastha, Pallav Kumar Das, Pritam Das, Rishav Das, Sibsankar Roy, Syed Mohammed, Tarjinder Singh, Rahul Hazarika, Dhiraj Goswami and Kunal Saikia.

Vidarbha: Faiz Fazal Captain), Shalab Shrivastava, Shrikanth Wagh, Akshay Wakhare, Aditya Sarwate, Akshay Kolhar, Lalit Yadav, Ravi Jangida, Jitesh Sharma, Ravikumar Thakur, Rajneesh Gurbani, Akshay Kanewar, Ganesh Satish, Sanjay Ramaswamy and Aditya Shanware.

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