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Ranji Trophy 2013-2014

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'Pick and choose' Ashish Nehra back in Delhi Ranji squad At the start of a new Ranji Trophy season, Ashish Nehra finds himself back in Delhi's squad. The left-arm seamer is 34, and has barely played any long-form cricket over the last few years. After missing the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons through injury, he has played only six first class matches over the last two seasons. Last year, Nehra played three matches for Delhi, picking up four wickets at an average of 53.00 and a strike rate of 102.00. His fitness was unreliable: he didn't play two matches in succession, and pulled his hamstring within the first hour of his match against Baroda — on a flat Ferozeshah Kotla track where Delhi's bowlers toiled for 178 overs to dismiss the visitors, Nehra sent down just six overs. Nehra returned for Delhi's fifth match of the season, against Karnataka, and then decided to sit out the rest of the tournament citing fitness reasons. He recovered in time to represent Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, and his state team in the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy last month. Even before the start of this season, Nehra has warned that he may not play all of Delhi's matches. "Ashish Nehra has made himself available on condition that he will not play back-to-back matches this season," said Chetan Chauhan, chairman of the DDCA selection committee. Nehra, he said, remains a prized asset despite his age and fitness record. "He is our ace bowler. His experience gives him the backing of the selectors and team management. This time too, senior team members and selectors wanted him to be in the squad," said Chauhan. It could be argued that Nehra's infrequent presence hampered the Delhi attack, in terms of continuity. He played their season opener against Uttar Pradesh in Ghaziabad — a match Delhi lost — and sat out the next one against Odisha. Pawan Suyal, who had sat out the UP game, replaced Nehra in the attack and took eight wickets. Nehra's return against Baroda saw Delhi pick four seamers and drop their only specialist spinner Vikas Mishra. Nehra broke down and the other three Delhi pacers toiled for more than 30 overs each; for Baroda, spinner Bhargav Bhatt took three out of the six Delhi wickets that fell. Would it be unfair for bowlers who perform well this season to sit out matches thanks to Nehra's pick and choose policy? "Any bowler who will do well will keep playing in the team," Chauhan said. "If these three bowlers perform equally well than we might not play Nehra. This has been decided already and we will stick to our plan." He also said that, if need be, Delhi will test the younger members of their pace battery in the CK Nayudu Trophy (U-25), and that anyone who does particularly well could expect a senior call-up. The squad: Gautam Gambhir (Capt), Virender Sehwag, Ashish Nehra, Mithun Manhas, Rajat Bhatia, Punit Bisht, Sumit Narwal, Parvinder Awana, Vaibhav Rawal, Mohit Sharma, Vikas Mishra, Manan Sharma, Milind Kumar, Pawan Suyal, Manoj Chauhan.
http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pick-and-choose-ashish-nehra-back-in-delhi-ranji-squad/1186043/

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more than sachin i am keen to see how zaheer and kulkarni get on in haryana with the eyes of india on this match both of them can use this match to forced their way back/make a break into the indian side. Kulkarni especially has had good A tour results. Rahane and Nayyar too will want strong performances. Lot to play for mumbai players many on the cusp of team india in various formats.

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Saurashtra aim to go one better Saurashtra: Minus key players By Alagappan Muthu Where they finished last time Runners-up Big Picture Saurashtra collared the spotlight last year as they finished among the top two teams in the tournament, and gave the national side three promising talents in Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and Jaydev Unadkat. This season, though, Saurashtra must cope with depleted resources - in addition to Pujara and Jadeja expected to be away on national duty, Shitanshu Kotak will bring his 20-year first-class career to a close after the opener against Rajasthan on October 27. "We are looking to work on our consistency," Sheldon Jackson, their second-highest scorer from 2012-13, said. "We want to be in the top-four or five teams and if we continue playing good cricket, we can surely make that happen. We've had extended camps this season, played a KSCA tournament in Bangalore, and then we had a training camp as well. So preparations have been very good." Saurashtra's batting was quite solid, accounting for four of the top six individual scores. Though Jadeja and Pujara were responsible for three of them - all triple centuries - Jackson believes the team has other reserves to bank on. "We beat big teams like Karnataka in the quarter-final, then we won the semi-final against Punjab without Cheteshwar and Ravindra." Unadkat and Siddharth Trivedi took on the mantle in that game, reducing Punjab from 252 for 3 to 272 for 8. However, Trivedi's absence, banned for a year for failing to report advances made by bookies during the IPL, could prove a big blow. As will the departure of Kotak. "He was the backbone of Saurashtra's batting for 20 years," Jackson said. "You give him wet wickets, a turner, he has always been there, fighting it out for us." Players to watch Aarpit Vasavada, 24, chose an opportune setting for his highest first-class score - an unbeaten 152 to beat Karnataka in the quarter-final - and Saurashtra will hope his performance from last season (599 runs in nine matches) is only the beginning. Rajasthan: High to low to high again? By Devashish Fuloria Where they finished After two Ranji titles in two years, Rajasthan failed to win a single match in the 2012-13 season and finished eighth in Group A, avoiding relegation by just one point. Big Picture Rajasthan's two title wins had been built on strong batting performances, with Vineet Saxena and Robin Bist leading the way. Saxena continued in similar vein last year, but Bist's lack of form hurt the team's batting. Another area they lacked in was the spin department, with most of their wickets coming through their trio of pacers - Pankaj Singh, Rituraj Singh and Aniket Choudhary. This year, the team has roped in former Rajasthan fast bowler Pradeep Sunderam as the head coach and have signed up Mumbai stalwart Ramesh Powar to boost their spin department. Sunderam, who has previously been a bowling coach at the Mumbai Cricket Association Academy, has said that he was working on the mental side of things with the team, with fast bowling coach Meryck Pringle and captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar already at the helm. Powar, 35, will likely take the role of the mentor of the young spin attack this year and with the coach confident of Bist's form ahead of the season, Rajasthan are likely to target a top-three finish in the group. It's not an easy group though. Key players Vineet Saxena scores his run at a slow pace, but he was the one who was scoring all the runs for the team last season. He provides the stability for others to score around him and will again be expected to deliver in the same role. Pankaj Singh was team's highest wicket-taker last season, with 29 wickets. He was also vocal about his desire to make the national side. With India's bowling stocks being a perennial worry, a good season here could be important for the 28-year-old's career revival. **** Railways: Seeking to beat the odds By Abhishek Purohit Where they finished Railways finished fifth out of nine teams in Group A, only two points behind second and third-placed Saurashtra and Mumbai, both of whom qualified for the knockouts with 23 points. Railways didn't lose a single game, but they conceded the first-innings lead in four of their first five matches, all drawn. They beat Rajasthan and Bengal comfortably but, in between, ceded the lead to Hyderabad, sealing another competitive but unsuccessful season. Big Picture As always, the challenge for a departmental side such as Railways, hamstrung by scarce funds, is to try and compete with state teams, who have access to much better facilities and other resources. Even as their first-round opponents Madhya Pradesh toured South Africa to prepare, Railways' first priority was to find a venue to host their 'home' matches. Their ground, the Karnail Singh Stadium in Delhi, was banned for a season last year for dishing out a poor pitch against Saurashtra in December 2011. Railways were forced to shift base all the way to the East Coast Railway Sports Association ground in Bhubaneswar. The Karnail Singh turf has been relaid since, but the ground is still not ready to host games. Railways coach, and India A fielding coach, Abhay Sharma is "thankful" to the Railway Sports Promotion Board for hiring the Jamia Millia Islamia University Ground in Delhi, where his side will now play their home matches. As far as practice goes, Railways have been using a school academy ground. Abhay is honest in appraising his team's chances. "We are a young side," he said. "We don't have a home ground. We don't have practice facilities. There is not much support. Things are really tight. We will try our best but we also have to be realistic." Having secured a ground is only the first hurdle cleared. Murali Kartik, the veteran left-arm spinner, will lead the side this season but will miss the opener against MP in Indore, having been involved in a road accident recently. Also, Railways will get the first taste of life without Sanjay Bangar, one of the foremost allrounders of all time in Indian domestic cricket, who retired at the end of last season. Apart from his 8349 first-class runs and 300 wickets, Railways will also miss a leader, a mentor and a workhorse bowler. "There is no replacement for Sanjay," Abhay said of his former team-mate. "Great cricketer, great human being. I'll be missing him for sure." Key players Along with the experience of Kartik, Railways are banking on Karn Sharma, the 26-year-old legspinning allrounder. Karn impressed with his controlled legbreaks in the IPL for Sunrisers Hyderabad and has a steadily improving first-class record. "He will be ready very soon for a higher grade of cricket," Abhay said. "We have been working on him for five years. He is a complete allrounder and also a brilliant fielder." Batting has been a worry for Railways, and men such as vice-captain Shivakant Shukla, wicketkeeper Mahesh Rawat and opener Amit Paunikar will have to come good.

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Madhya Pradesh: Will South Africa experience pay dividends? By Rachna Shetty Where they finished Sixth in Group A Big Picture The closest Madhya Pradesh came to winning the Ranji Trophy was in 1998-99 when they finished runners-up to Karnataka. They came within an inch of the knockouts last year, when they boldly chose to chase down a target of 311 against Mumbai in their penultimate group match. They fell seven runs short. Mumbai made the most of those points and went on to win their 44th Ranji title. MP finished in the lower half of the table, another middling result for the team trying. This year, MP are placed in Group B alongside last year's finalists, Saurashtra, semi-finalists Services and former Ranji champions in Uttar Pradesh, Railways, Rajasthan, Baroda and Tamil Nadu. It's a tough group and MP chose to prepare for this season by sending their senior team to South Africa for a tour comprising one-dayers and three-day games. Although they got to play just four matches due to weather constraints, the overseas experience, according to coach Mukesh Sahani, is slowly become a fixture in MP's routine. "Last year we toured Sri Lanka for a short tour and this time it was South Africa," Sahani said. "Such tours have become an important part of our preparation, as it gives young players exposure in different environments. Although two of the matches were washed out, our players had a chance to play against Graeme Smith and Justin Kemp." This year's squad features three first-timers: 19-year-old batsman Shubham Sharma, right-arm pacer Nikhil Sawke and batting allrounder Salman Baig. While Shubham and Sawke are yet to make their debut for Madhya Pradesh, Baig, who also bowls medium-pace, was a part of the T20 squad and played four games for MP in the Syed Mushtaq Ali trophy earlier this year. Players to watch Their results may not have been consistent, but MP had star performers. Pacer Ishwar Pandey finished as the tournament's highest wicket-taker last year, with 48 wickets from 15 innings at an average of 21.06. He will lead the MP attack once again. The batting rests on Jalaj Saxena and captain Devendra Bundela, and Udit Birla and Naman Ojha would also like to shed the 'underachievers' tag.

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Due to rain New Zealand and Bangladesh Share the Trophy… Bangladesh Vs New Zealand – 2nd Test (5-day match) Over night rain through the day spoiled the last day’s play in the second Test, in Mirpur. The covers take out twice in Mirpur in the morning session . But the total performance of both teams collapsed by rain. After the match finished , Tamim Iqbal was fined 50% of his match fees for attacking Brendon McCullum with his shoulder during New Zealand’s innings, when moving past the batsman to his fielding position at mid-on.

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Mumbai: Likely to face a challenging season By Nagraj Gollapudi Teams: India Where they finished As Ranji Trophy champions. However Mumbai's journey was not a smooth one: they could muster only two outright victories in eleven matches. Big Picture Until Zaheer Khan delivered an inspired match-winning, and season-turning, spell against Madhya Pradesh in the penultimate group match, Mumbai's ride last season had been wobbly. Once they reached the semi-finals, however, Mumbai's determination and much-talked-about aura was restored as they cruised to win the 40th Ranji title comfortably. Their troubles have not been washed away in the new season. If Mumbai are honest, they will admit this is likely to be one of their most challenging seasons. Their weakest suit is their bowling. Ajit Agarkar's retirement and Ramesh Powar's decision to play for Rajasthan has left a void that cannot be filled immediately. In the last decade, Agarkar and Powar were pillars on which Mumbai's success story was built. Both men not only bowled tireless spells, but also returned to the crease to deliver match-saving cameos and, occasionally, match-winning ones. Along with another stalwart, Wasim Jaffer, the trio was the bridge that connected the new generation to the ethos of Mumbai cricket: cuss out the opposition. So far only Dhawal Kulkarni, from among the newer lot, has shown the capability of coping with the rigours of domestic cricket. However, Mumbai's chief concern will be their inexperienced spin attack led by the left-arm spinners, Iqbal Abdulla and Vishal Dabholkar. Abdulla, three short of 100 wickets for Mumbai, has remained inconsistent despite chances over the last few years while Dabholkar has just played four matches so far. It is something opponents will aim to capitalise on. Mumbai would do well to take advantage of the presence of Sachin Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane and gain early momentum in the group stage. Players to watch He is not attractive, but he can get under your skin - with bat, ball, and with his blunt sledges. A quiet man off the field, Abhishek Nayar showed his ability to make big noise when he finished as the second-highest scorer in Ranji Trophy with 966 runs and 19 wickets. So far this season, he scored two fifties and a century against the A teams from New Zealand and West Indies and also hit a fifty in the NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. In the absence of established players like Zaheer, Rohit and Rahane - due to fitness issues or national commitments - Nayar is steadily growing into the go-to man for Mumbai. Team speak "To do well in Ranji Trophy, it is all about consistency. Along with that fitness and how we perform in the away games will be the three goals we will need to meet." Abhishek Nayar, Mumbai vice-captain. Punjab: Young and well-rounded By Nikita Bastian Big Picture After a couple of ordinary seasons, when they finished in the lower halves of their groups, Punjab were arguably the most dominant side in the group stages last year. They won four of their first five games - two by an innings, one by eight wickets and the other by nine - and despite not winning any of their remaining group games finished almost 10 points clear of the next team. In the quarter-final, they piled up a whopping 699 for 3 with Taruwar Kohli hitting an unbeaten triple. Punjab's strength was that, in a batsman-dominated competition, their bowlers were very successful. In their ten games, they managed to bowl out the opposition for below 300 eleven times. They took full advantage of the traditionally seamer-friendly conditions in Mohali, winning all their home games. Among the tournament's top five wicket-takers, two were from Punjab. Siddarth Kaul was second on the table with 44, and Sandeep Sharma was No. 5 with 41. That's not to say the batting was far behind. Three of their batsmen scored over 500 runs - Mandeep Singh (595), Uday Kaul (652), and the tournament's leading run-getter, Jiwanjot Singh (995). The only glitch in their season was being bowled out for 59 against Mumbai, when Ankeet Chavan ran rampant with a nine-for. Coach Bhupinder Singh, the medium-pacer who played a couple of one-dayers for India in the mid-90s, said last year offered valuable experience for what is a "young team". "This is a young bunch and they played good cricket last year, and they are richer by one year's experience. I hope we are able to take the next step now, past the semi-finals." Missing from Punjab's squad is batsman Karan Goel, who's out with a shoulder injury, but should be fit later in the season. Legspinner Rahul Sharma has also not made it for the first match, with Bhupinder saying Punjab has him in the reserves but views him primarily as a limited-overs option. Left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma has been dropped and is likely to shift to Himachal Pradesh. Then there's Yuvraj Singh, who, while not named in the squad for the first game, "has promised to play if he's not part of the Indian Test team [for the West Indies series]". If Yuvraj plays, he will be the go-to man for the team's young batsmen, while captain Harbhajan Singh will mentor the bowlers. Players to watch The squad's big addition this year is pace bowler VRV Singh, who last played first-class cricket in the 2007-08 season before being sidelined by a back injury. VRV Singh, 29, who has played Tests and ODIs for India, underwent surgery on his back, and returned to competitive cricket last year when he played in the domestic T20s. Since then, Bhupinder said he has been easing his way back into cricket, playing for longer and longer periods. "He's bowling well and I think he can be my surprise package this year," Bhupinder said. "He seems in good shape and is generating good pace." Given that India always seem lacking on the bowling front, and that before the injuries arrived he was impressive enough to impress the likes of Ian Bishop, the Indian selectors might well be keeping a quiet eye on how he does. Jiwanjot Singh, 22, was the tournament's top-scorer in his debut season. He has since made it to the India A team and the North Zone team for the Duleep Trophy. He has played 15 first-class matches, but not a single recognised limited-overs game. That, Bhupinder said, is down to his style of play: "Jiwanjot is more suited to the longer version. He's more into technical correctness. Batsmen from five, seven, ten years back, he's more in that mould. Plays very straight and has a good defence."

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Jharkhand: Eager to shine in the big league By Vishal Dikshit Where they finished last season Jharkhand finished second in Group C last year. Three outright wins and as many draws took them to the quarter-finals against Punjab. They were promoted to Group A for this season. Big Picture The beginning of Jharkhand's season will be watched for the comeback of two players who have had fleeting international careers so far - Varun Aaron and Saurabh Tiwary. While Tiwary had a shoulder operation in August, Aaron has been plagued with injuries since he last played for India in 2011. Jharkhand also have a new coach in Subroto Banerjee and two new recruits - Bhavin Thakkar and Bhavik Thaker. Middle-order batsman Thakker last played a first-class game in the 2010-11 season, for Himachal Pradesh, and averages 35.62 from 37 first-class matches. Thaker, also 31, moved from Gujarat, who did not give him a chance in the last season, and averages 40. Their bowling, an area of strength, features one of the most promising spinners in the domestic circuit. Left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, captain of the side, was also their highest wicket-taker in 2012-13 with 42 wickets from nine games. He will be accompanied by offspinner Sunny Gupta who took four wickets against North Zone in the recent Duleep Trophy semi-final. Shankar Rao and Ajay Yadav will handle the pace attack. While Rao averaged 24.65 last season with 26 wickets, Yadav played only five matches and impressed with 23 wickets, mainly through his haul of 11 wickets against Services and 10 against Tripura. Jharkhand began their Ranji campaign last year with an outright win - an innings and 31 runs against Jammu & Kashmir - but will face a stiffer challenge in their first game against Delhi this year. While they shone in the lightweight Group C last season, the more accomplished opponents this season will test how far Jharkhand have progressed. Key players Saurabh Tiwary amassed 602 runs in the previous season at an average of 46.30, including two hundreds and three fifties. However, his comeback is likely to be tough. He hasn't played a professional match in more than five months and will be facing more potent attacks this season. Varun Aaron, on the other hand, hasn't played since IPL 2012 due to the recurrence of a back injury. The bowler recently said he had made a "slight adjustment" to his bowling action and hoped that the tweak would help him last the season. Jharkhand will be hoping it works out that way, as a fully fit Aaron will make the side's attack formidable. Click here for the full squad Haryana: Ajay Jadeja in the spotlight By Devashish Fuloria Where they finished Eighth in Group B with one win in eight matches. Big Picture Last year, Haryana were bowled out for 55 on the first morning of their opening Ranji Trophy match - their lowest-ever Ranji total - against Vidarbha. In their second match, they were again bowled out for a lowly 66 but despite the batting debacles, the conversation every time teams played in Rohtak hovered around the seamer-friendly conditions in Lahli, their home ground. They say it's the high water-table beneath the ground that provides the moisture to the pitch and open fields around the ground mean there is always the assistance of breeze. However, more often than not, it's the traveling teams that have exploited the conditions better. It could be different this year, as the Haryana Cricket Association have roped in their former stalwart Ajay Jadeja as coach and captain. Jadeja came out of cricketing hibernation in August when he played Buchi Babu tournament for the team, at the ripe age of 42. Jadeja, and with the weight of 8046 first-class runs behind him, he will have the responsibility of not only leading the team with the bat, but also provide direction. Haryana's first match this year will be under media glare for being the last first-class match for Sachin Tendulkar, Jadeja's former India opening partner. For Jadeja, though, it's a new start and he will have the tough job of setting the scene for the long season ahead. Key players With Amit Mishra likely to be away on national duty and the batting being the weak link, Haryana will depend on key contributions from seamer Mohit Sharma, who relished the conditions at the home venue last year. He collected a rich haul of 37 wickets, that included three five-fors, at an average of 23.24. But Haryana may have to do without him for chunks of the season as he is not too far from being called up to the national team, at least for the limited-overs matches against West Indies and South Africa.

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VRV is back for Punjab. VRV is one guy who has been really unfortunate with injuries. Has not played a single FC match in last 5-6 years, only 25 FC matches in a 10 year old career and whenever he has played, he wrecked havoc in domestic cricket. SR of 40 after 25 matches says it all.

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VRV is back for Punjab. VRV is one guy who has been really unfortunate with injuries. Has not played a single FC match in last 5-6 years' date=' only 25 FC matches in a 10 year old career and whenever he has played, he wrecked havoc in domestic cricket. SR of 40 after 25 matches says it all.[/quote'] Seems like a natural wicket taker. I recall watching him in a Duleep Trophy final bowling just 130kph but the batsmen really did not have a clue how to play him.

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Foggy day in Delhi so far with weather likely to remain the same for next few days. At Lahli the ball will be swinging all day
Lahli is a tough ground to play on. That's why I don't understand why selectors don't look at Rahul Dewan as a possible opening batsman. Even though his average is not that great, he plays most of his matches on a tough wicket

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Seems like a natural wicket taker. I recall watching him in a Duleep Trophy final bowling just 130kph but the batsmen really did not have a clue how to play him.
They might play him ahead of Gony who had an average last season.

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They might play him ahead of Gony who had an average last season.
Never seen the appeal with Gony. He always bowled medium pace (125-130kph) in IPL and got hit around all the time.

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.

Never seen the appeal with Gony. He always bowled medium pace (125-130kph) in IPL and got hit around all the time.
Gony has bowled 135 to 142 k and also 128 to 137 k in IPL with quickest deliveries around 144/ 145 k in some matches. He did not come across as a very good or consistent bowler though.

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Excited about the new Ranji season beginning tomorrow. Have been disappointed though with the apparent lack of shows related to the domestic season on Star Sports-ESPN. Expected them to put some emphasis on domestic cricket besides the matches being shown live. Hasn't yet happened.

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Very tough pitch for batsmen
Lahli is India's South Africa. It has seen plenty of under 100 totals. Ball moves all 5 days here because of low water levels. Indian batsmen should practice here as much as they can before SA tour. and What about bounce?

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Lahli is India's South Africa. It has seen plenty of under 100 totals. Ball moves all 5 days here because of low water levels. Indian batsmen should practice here as much as they can before SA tour. and What about bounce?
It's got good bounce today. Kulkarni's first four overs were beautiful. Last two were decent. Zak's pace is ordinary but he got one wicket. Kulkarni should have two. I agree, Indian batsmen should practice here, especially against pacy bowlers like yadav, shukla and skill bowlers like Bhuvi and mohit. I'm looking forward to mohit vs Rahane

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