Ranji Trophy: It's Maha's batting against Rajasthan's bowling

From getting within touching distance of a world record with a 600+ total against Delhi, Maharashtra barely warded off defeat on the follow-on against Saurashtra last week at Vizianagaram.

Swapnil Gugale, Maharashtra v Rajasthan, Ranji Trophy

Maharashtra captain Swapnil Gugale expects a good contest between the bat and the ball in Hyderabad.   -  PTI

It will be Maharashtra’s batting against Rajasthan’s bowling might in their Ranji Trophy group B match at the Rajiv Gandhi International stadium here from Thursday, a prospect underscored by the former’s captain and triple centurion Swapnil Gugale.

From getting within touching distance of a world record with a 600+ total against Delhi, Maharashtra barely warded off defeat on the follow-on against Saurashtra last week at Vizianagaram. “Maybe we were too tired after fielding for two days,” reasoned Gugale about the poor showing by his side’s batsmen, after the team invited the opposition to bat first.

Explaining the setback further, he said his team’s batting didn’t fare well and neither did the bowling, allowing Saurashtra to pile up 657. “But this is part and parcel of modern cricket,” the Pune native philosophised.

About his own batting, he felt he was a shade unlucky against the odd ball that chipped into the woodwork off his bat in the first innings. “It is disappointing but I need to be patient and focussed on the task at hand,” he added.

Of the wicket at the Hyderabad venue, he said it had good bounce and carry. “We have good batting and they have good bowling. But the track should favour batsmen with technique and bowlers who attack the right areas. Good performances can be expected from this match,” Gugale predicted.

Maharashtra has brought in Samad Fallah and Taranjit Singh Dhillon in place of Shrikant Mundhe and Nikit Dhumal in the squad of 15.

Rajasthan’s captain Pankaj Singh was also positive. “Although we lost to Jharkhand narrowly, we have been playing good cricket over the last three matches. The wicket here should produce a good contest, because the last two games had outright verdicts enabled by the fast bowlers. We have a good set of fast bowlers and there we have an edge,” he observed.

Of his own fine displays with the ball, including an eight-wicket haul in a match, Singh hopes to continue to contribute to the team’s cause. The lone change in his squad is the replacement of Rajat Bhatia with Ankit Lamba, the latter coming in for the all-rounder who will not play this match and left to attend to some domestic issue back home.

The teams (from):

Maharashtra: Swapnil Gugale (captain), Rahul Tripathi (vice-captain), Ankit Bawne, Harshad Khadiwale, Samad Fallah, Naushad Shaikh, Vishant More (wicket-keeper), Chirag Khurana, Satyajeet Bachav, Anupam Sanklecha, Akshay Darekar, Murtaza Trunkwala, Prayag Bhati, Mohsin Sayyad, Taranjit Singh. Coach: Shrikant Kalyani. Manager: Mohd. Poonawalla.

Rajasthan: Pankaj Singh (captain), Ashok Menaria (vice-captain), Vineet Saxena, Chetan Bist (wicket-keeper), Manender Singh, Nathu Singh, Aniket Choudhary, Tanvir Ul -Haq, Rajesh Bishnoi junior, Ajay Kukna, Siddharth Dhobal, Ankit Lamba, Pranay Sharma, Mahipal Lomror, Puneet Yadav. Coach: Amit Asawa. Manager: Vijendra Yadav.

Match officials: Match referee: Nitin Goel. Umpires: A. Nanda Kishore, B. Yeshwanth Chandrakanth.

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