Ranji Trophy: Motivated Jharkhand takes on Haryana

Come Friday, Jharkhand has a chance to take one more step to carve its own identity when it takes on Haryana in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals at the Moti Bagh Stadium.

Coach Rajiv Kumar said that the key behind Jharkhand's rise over the last two years has been about working as team and not as individuals.   -  Special arrangement

Cricket teams often have been dominated by or depended on one star player. But, never has a team’s identity been defined by one person, like it has been for Jharkhand with its prodigal son M.S. Dhoni.

Come Friday, the team has a chance to take one more step to carve its own identity when it takes on Haryana in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals at the Moti Bagh Stadium.

Speaking about the team’s rise over the last two years, coach Rajiv Kumar said that the key has been about working as team and not as individuals. “Even last year we had a very good set of players, but the difference from the start of the last season to now is that it is not about individuals performances and more about partnerships. It took time to adapt but now it is working well.”

Jharkhand made it to the last eight stage last year too from Group C that secured its promotion to Group B this year. In the league stages, Jharkhand has been the best team scoring two more points than domestic powerhouse Karnataka and including five wins — most by any team.

One of the key reasons for the good show has been the improved fitness. “Last year we were lacking in fitness and we changed a few things during off-season and it is an ongoing process. To be successful in Elite group you have to be consistent and fighting for every session,” said Kumar.

The side has deployed an aggressive brand of cricket which is evinced in the fact that it has managed to post two innings victory and conceded the first innings lead only once in eight matches.

While three batsmen have been incredibly consistent with Ishank Jaggi, Ishan Kishan and Saurabh Tiwary scoring more than 500 runs, left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and pacer Ashish Kumar have accounted for 70 wickets between them.

Kumar requested Dhoni to mentor the side and the skipper has been spending time with the team practising alongside on a couple of occasions this year and the Indian skipper’s mantra of taking the game till the end has been embraced by the team.

“If the captain of India is explaining things and not only explain but has done it for more than a decade, it is a great motivation for the side,” said Kumar.

For Haryana, this year has been a different experience, being in plate group after a poor season last year where its best result was a first innings lead in only one game and losing outright four times.

It was a big fall considering that it has the presences of players with international experience like Amit Mishra, Mohit Sharma, and Yuzvendra Chahal to name a few.

Vijay Yadav, who took over as coach this year, said, “Last year was very difficult for the side and we know we don't belong in the Plate group. So to get back to elite group we knew we had to get outright wins.”

Yadav praised the effort of his bowlers saying in helping the side gain promotion with three outright wins saying, “Mohit has done well with the ball and also as captain along with Chahal. With the bat Nitin Saini has done really well scoring 900 runs so far.”

Haryana had a setback mid-season when Chahal was injured after five matches with a side strain and the team struggled in the spin department without Amit Mishra and Jayant Yadav who were away on national duty, but will be bolstered by the arrival of Mishra. Chahal is also available for selection.

Speaking about the opponent Yadav said that Jharkhand has benefitted from the presence of Dhoni during practice sessions this season, playing fearless cricket. He added that being patient will be his side’s plans to succeed.

The teams (from):

Jharkhand: Saurabh Tiwary (capt.), Ishank Jaggi, Shahbaz Nadeem, Sunny Gupta, Samar Quadri, Ajay Yadav, Rahul Shukla, Ashish Kumar, Vikas Singh, Kaushal Singh, Ishan Kishan, Virat Singh, Sumit Kumar, Pratyush Singh and Anand Singh.

Haryana: Mohit Sharma (capt.), Ashok Sandhu, Ashish Hooda, Mohit Hooda, Yuzvendra Chahal, Joginder Sharma, Sanjay Pahal, Rajat Paliwal, Harshal Patel, Shubham Rohilla, Nitin Saini, Rohit Parmod Sharma, Shivam Chauhan, Himanshu Rana, Chaitanya Bishnoi, Virender Dahiya, Amit Mishra, Guntashveer Singh, Rahul Tewatia and Poonish Mehta

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