Ranji Trophy: Haryana aims to shrug off Round Four blip

Haryana's coach Vijay Yadav has stated his team's intention to stay at the top of the Ranji Trophy Group C table and move on from a defeat in the previous round, as it faces Kerala on Saturday.

Yuzvendra Chahal has already taken 22 wickets, the second highest so far this season.   -  PTI

The Sawai Man Singh Stadium may have encouraged the batsmen to score aplenty, but the Haryana coach Vijay Yadav saw life in the pitch as some grass had been left for the bowlers, on the eve of the Ranji Trophy Group-C league match against Kerala.

"If the bowlers apply themselves, they can succeed. Kerala is a good team and it is a crucial match for us, as we try to stay in the top," said Yadav on Friday. Haryana may be on top with 15 points after four matches, but Kerala with nine points, having taken first innings lead in three matches, may not be that easy to eke out points.

Yuzvendra Chahal for Haryana has been impressive with his recent wicket-taking record for his side. He has already taken 22 wickets, the second highest so far this season. The former India wicket-keeper, Vijay Yadav said that the team had hoped for the return of off spinner Jayant Yadav to bolster the squad, but was happy that he was on national duty.

The loss to Andhra in Mumbai, when Haryana collapsed in the first innings for 103, and Siva Kumar bagged nine wickets for Andhra in the match, has reinforced the unpredictability of the game. "The second innings was easy.We could have won that match. But, cricket is a one ball game," he said with a touch of philosophy.

"With so much travel and no home advantage, it is tough on the teams," said Yadav, as he recalled how the team spent two days, moving from Jamshedpur to Guwahati despite air travel. There was some concern about the fitness of Joginder Sharma as he had a painful shoulder, and thus he was waiting for the physio to give him a clearance.

Uphill task to stay afloat

With a bunch of quality cricketers eager to capitalise on the chances, Kerala will be keen to move up from its current position of eighth place from among ten teams. Only the top two qualify for the knock-out phase from Group-C, unlike three teams each from the groups ‘A’ and ‘B’.

Both the teams trained for half a day at the Rajasthan Cricket Academy, with its nice provision of nets on either side of the pitch on the second ground. The players made a round of the main ground to have a look at what lay in store for them.

The tinge of green notwithstanding, it will be a surprise if it is not another battle for the first innings lead, on a pitch that has been offering 400, 500 and 600 runs to the teams, with rare glimpse of a second innings in recent times.

On a neutral venue when nobody comes to watch the game, when first class cricket has been reduced to a training ground for the big league, cricket should at least be competitive to make it interesting for the teams involved.

The teams (from): Kerala: Rohan Prem (captain), Sachin Baby, VA Jagadeesh, Bhavin Thakkar, Jalaj Saxena, Sanju Samson, Monish Kareparambil, Iqbal Abdulla, Nikhilesh Surendran, Sandeep Warrier Basil Thampy, Manu Krishnan, Robert Fernandez, MD NIdheesh and Tibin Joseph.

Haryana: Nitin Saini, Shubham Rohilla, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Rajat Paliwal, Mohit Hooda, Rohit Sharma, Mohit Sharma (captian), Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Sanjay Pahal, Joginder Sharma, Shivam Chauhan, Ashish Hooda, Virender Dahiya.