Vijay Hazare Trophy Elite Group B Preview: Focus on Gambhir, Pujara

Andhra will rely on its captain Hanuma Vihari, the fourth highest run-getter in the tourney last season.

Delhi has a number of stars at its disposal — captain Gautam Gambhir, wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, batsmen Nitish Rana and Unmukt Chand, among others.   -  FILE PHOTO/BISWARANJAN ROUT

 

The battle for a spot in the knockouts is likely to be among Delhi, Saurashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra and Hyderabad among teams from Group B for the Vijay Hazare Trophy. The teams will play the group stages in three grounds in Delhi — the Ferozeshah Kotla, the Palam A Ground, and the Palam B ground.

Having an outside chance will be Kerala, a side that has a number of accomplished players yet starts as a dark horse in the race owing to the internal discord that rocked team recently, and the Suresh Raina-led Uttar Pradesh.

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Sachin Baby, the captain, will be keen to start on a fresh note when his side takes on Andhra in the first match of the competition in Delhi, on Wednesday at the Palam A stadium. Eyes will also be on wicketkeeper-batsman Sanju Samson, who shone for Rajasthan Royals earlier this year in the Indian Premier League with his blitzkriegs.

Vihari back to roots

Andhra will rely on its captain Hanuma Vihari, the fourth highest run-getter in the tourney last season. Vihari’s good form has continued through the year; having excelled with the bat — a century and two fifties — for India A last month, he was rewarded with a spot in the Indian team for the final Test of the England tour at Lord’s.

Ricky Bhui, who averaged 53.80 in the tourney last season, will also be expected to contribute.

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Batting responsibilities for Saurashtra, which reached the final last season, will be expected to be shouldered mainly by Cheteshwar Pujara, who dazzled with a tally of 383 last season, finishing as the third highest run-getter. It plays its first match against Uttar Pradesh, also on Wednesday.

Another heavyweight will be Delhi, which has a number of stars at its disposal — captain Gautam Gambhir, wicketkeeper-batsman Rishabh Pant, batsmen Nitish Rana and Unmukt Chand, among others. As it also has the home advantage, it will fancy its smooth progress through to the knockout round.

Hyderabad will also be among the top contenders. Much will be expected from its seamer Mohammed Siraj, who emerged as the top wicket-taker in the competition last season, with 23 scalps.

For Chhattisgarh, the weakest team in the group on paper, the tourney will be a chance to match up to the elite cricketers of the country.

The teams (Elite Group ‘B’): Andhra, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Saurashtra, and Uttar Pradesh.

Wednesday’s matches

Kerala vs Andhra, Palam A Stadium, Delhi

Madhya Pradesh vs Hyderabad, Palam B Stadium, Delhi

Uttar Pradesh vs Saurashtra, Ferozeshah Kotla, Delhi

All Matches start at 09:00 AM