Sachin Baby optimistic of Kerala chances

After leading Kerala to quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy last season, which was easily the highest point of his career, Sachin Baby faced a revolt from fellow players who wanted him to be removed as captain at the start of the new season.

Sachin Baby recently faced a revolt from fellow players who wanted him to be removed as the captain at the start of the new season.   -  S. Mahinsha

It took Sachin Baby less than six months to experience all the highs and lows of captaincy. After leading Kerala to quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy last season, which was easily the highest point of his career, Sachin Baby faced a revolt from fellow players who wanted him to be removed as captain at the start of the new season.

But Kerala Cricket Association (KCA) stood behind its captain to quell the revolt. Back at helm, Sachin Baby says the setbacks have only made him stronger. The differences with his team-mates is now a closed chapter and Sachin is determined to take Kerala to the next level.

Drawn in a tough group in the Ranji Trophy this season, Kerala faces a daunting task to replicate last season’s performance. However, Sachin Baby is optimistic about his team's chances. "It is a tough group but I think we have the ability to compete with the best. We need to push hard and play consistently well over a period of time as there isn’t any weak team in the Elite group,’’ he told Sportstar on Thursday after a training session at the St.Xavier’s College Ground.

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"It is important for us to start the campaign on a winning note. The first two matches against Hyderabad and Andhra at home are important. We need to win both the matches and then the momentum will be with us when we play away from home. However, we will have one eye on the weather too. Usually it rains in South India during November and the weather is likely to be fickle in North India so we are hoping that we will get the best of conditions when we play,’’ he said.

"This team has a heady mix of senior and junior players. We decided to fall back on experienced players since we will be playing against tough opponents. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy we blooded a few youngsters but they couldn’t seize the opportunity and failed to perform under pressure. I think our strength is going to be our spinners. Though we have good medium pacers, I think we will be playing more on wickets which will aid spinners. Jalaj Saxena, K.C Akshay and Vinoop S. Manoharan will have a big role with the to play this season,” he said.

"The batting looks solid with Jalaj Saxena, Arun Karthick, Rohan Prem and V.A. Jagadeesh lending experience. Sanju Samson will be the wicketkeeper and I hope he will come good with the bat as well,’’ said Sachin who was pretty happy with his form.

"I made a couple of fifties in Vijay Hazare Trophy. I think we competed well in the tournament. The batting collapse against Andhra and the washed out match against MP spoiled our chances to qualify for the quarterfinals. But there were a lot of positives which we will carry to the Ranji Trophy,’’ he said.