Ranji Trophy: Hyderabad to take on Kerala

Hyderabad and Kerala are set to clash in a Ranji Trophy Group C fixture in Bhubaneswar on Thursday. Both teams are coming off defeats in their second round matches.

Hyderabad coach Bharat Arun (left) has a word with left-arm spinner Mehdi Hasan ahead of the Ranji Trophy fixture against Kerala.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

Hyderabad and Kerala will look to rediscover their winning ways when they clash in the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the KIIT Stadium here on Thursday.

Both teams are coming off defeats in the second round. Hyderabad lost to Haryana in Jamshedpur, while Kerala lost to Himachal Pradesh.

Hyderabad will look for some special efforts from the openers P. Akshat Reddy and Tanmay Agarwal to give a good start for the middle order, led by captain S. Badrinath. The team will be buoyed by the form of B. Sandeep (another centurion in the opener) and wicketkeeper-batsman K. Sumanth.

'All-round improvement'

Its coach Bharat Arun hoped to wrench a win, and said the pitch looked a sporting one. “We definitely hope for an all-round improvement against Kerala to win this game and get back the momentum,” he remarked.

On the other hand, Kerala, with three points from two games, is clearly dependent on big contributions from internationals Sanju Samson and Sachin Baby, and pacer V. A. Jagadeesh. The focus will be on Jalaj Saxena and left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdullah, who is expected to complement another left-armer Kiran Monish.

Kerala coach P. Balachandran insists the outfit was not bothered about the nature of the wicket, which is reputed to be good for batting.

“We are here to give our best and get back to winning ways. And, we have depth in bowling with Sandeep Warrier spearheading the pace attack backed by very good spinners Iqbal Abdullah and S. K. Monish and the experienced Jalaj Saxena. A perfect blend of experience and youth to get the results,” he said.

“All that we look for is good start from the openers Jalaj Saxena and Bhavin Thakkar. We don’t want to be in a spot by drinks break itself on first day, if we bat first, as it happened in the first two games,” he said with a big smile. “But, the best part is Sanju (Samson) is in good form and we have capable players in the batting order who can rise to the occasion and hope things will work our way,” he said.

“We have to win this game,” he signed off.

The teams

Hyderabad: S. Badrinath (capt), P. Akshat Reddy, Tanmay Agarwal, B. Anirudh, B. Sandeep, K. Sumanth, Mehdi Hasan, Chama Milind, Vishal Sharma, Ravi Kiran, Md. Siraj, Benjamin Thomas, Akash Bhandari, Himalay Agarwal, Habib Ahmed and Mudassir Hussain. Coach: Bharat Arun.

Kerala: Rohan Prem (capt), Sachin Baby (vice-capt), Jalaj Saxena, Sajnu Viswanadh, V.A. Jagadeesh, Bhavin Thakkar, Robert Fernandez, Iqbal Abdullah, S.K. Monish, Manukrishnan, Basil Thampi, M.D. Nidheesh, Nikhilesh Surendran, Sandeep Warrier and Tilbin Joseph. Head coach: P. Balachandran. Bowling coach: Tinu Yohannan.

Other matches (Group C):

Jammu and Kashmir v Andhra, Mumbai

Chhattisgarh v Haryana, Guwahati

Goa v Services, Cuttack

Himachal Prades v Tripura, Kalyani

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