Ranji Trophy: Parthiv return boosts Gujarat for quarterfinals against Odisha

Gujarat will also look up to 26-year-old Priyank Panchal who has scored more than a thousand runs this season.

Parthiv Patel

On his return to the Indian Test side after eight years, Parthiv Patel scored 195 runs from four innings at a batting average of 65.   -  PTI

It is another opportunity for the aspirants to make a mark, while it continues to be a testing time for the established players, as Odisha takes on Gujarat in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium here from Friday.

Even though wicketkeeper captain Parthiv Patel will be the star, trying to keep his place in the national squad, Gujarat will look up to 26-year-old Priyank Panchal who has scored more than a thousand runs this season. Priyank has scored four centuries including a triple hundred against Punjab and a double century against Mumbai.

The Odisha team which finished third in its group with two wins and five draws viewed it as a positive chance to get into the limelight. "We have qualified for the quarterfinals after many years. It is a chance to play against a quality team and it will inspire us to perform better, especially with the selectors watching the action. It is a platform for us to graduate to the higher levels of the game," said Odisha captain Govinda Poddar.

With the team having finished its training session before Parthiv Patel landed in Jaipur, the attention of the media was entirely on Poddar, the rival captain, and he handled the stage with conviction.

Even though it is a five-day match, it will be interesting to see how the teams handle the playing conditions, especially the pitch, which has been helping the batsmen to make big scores through the season.

The moisture, together with the mild winter is expected to help the bowlers early in the day, and Odisha would hope to capitalise on the conditions through bowlers like Suryakant Pradhan, who has taken 27 wickets this season.

Manpreet Juneja who interacted with the media on behalf of the Gujarat team felt that his team was better equipped to cope with the conditions and thrive on them. He felt that it was much different to what the team had faced during the match against Baroda in October.

Gujarat may look up to off-spinner Rush Kalaria to strike decisive blows to its attempt to progress further in the tournament.

It has been a tough 'Bharat darshan' for the first-class cricketers, playing anonymous cricket in neutral venues across the country, while the focus of the cricket fans has been on Virat Kohli and the dominant Indian team.

First-class cricket has been turned into grooming pitches for higher levels of cricket, and the likes of Karun Nair — who scored an unbeaten triple hundred against England in Chennai — have already exemplified the rigorous quality check in domestic cricket.

Indian domestic cricket is a mere training school and the students are keen to capitalise on another stint in the middle, especially when there is no international cricket at home to deflect every fan’s attention.

The teams (from):

Gujarat: Parthiv Patel (capt.), Rujul Bhatt, Priyank Panchal, Samit Gohil, Bhargav Merai, Manpreet Juneja, Chirag Gandhi, Rush Kalaria, Mehul Patel, Karan Patel, Hardik Patel, Dhruv Raval, R.P. Singh, Axar Patel, Jaspreet Bumrah and Chintan Gaja.

Odisha: Govinda Poddar (capt.), Sandip Patnaik, Ranjit Singh, Subhransu Senapati, Biplab Samantray, Abhishek Yadav, Abhinash Saha, Sourav Rawat, Ansuman Gope, Deepak Behera, Basanta Mohanty, Alok Mangaraj, Dhiraj Singh, Suryakant Pradhan and Manoj Nayak.