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Uttar Pradesh hold edge over Madhya Pradesh

Uttar Pradesh hold edge over Madhya Pradesh
Highlights

It is likely to be a mismatch from the word go, unless last season’s semifinalist Madhya Pradesh, which will be without proven talent,  comes up with something out of the ordinary in their Ranji Trophy season opener against the formidable Uttar Pradesh that being at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium (RGICS) here on Thursday.

Hyderabad: It is likely to be a mismatch from the word go, unless last season’s semifinalist Madhya Pradesh, which will be without proven talent, comes up with something out of the ordinary in their Ranji Trophy season opener against the formidable Uttar Pradesh that being at Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium (RGICS) here on Thursday.

The match was originally allotted to Bilaspur but was deferred because of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the town. Meanwhile, the teams, which arrived two days back, underwent good net sessions. On paper, the Suresh Raina-led Uttar Pradesh looks more balanced with load sof strength in all departments of the game.

Raina, looking for a national ODI recall against New Zealand, has been in goods nick in his last two Duleep Trophy outings, a form that he hopes will continue ad make the selectors take notice. He has dependable batsmen in young players like Eklavya Dwivedi and Sarfaraz Khan while the
swing bowler Praveen Kumar and medium-pacer Ankit Rajpur can run through any formidable line up on their day. In the spin department, they have proven materials like Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav.

Madhya Pradesh’s batting will revolve around the old warhorse and their captain Devender Bundela, who has done the bulk of their runs for over a decade now. Unfortunately, they will be devoid of the services of the inured wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha and Jalaj Saxena, who has since shifted to Kerala.

The bowling will be relying on medium-pacer Ishwar Pandey and spinners Chandrakant Sakure and Mihir Hirwani. The pitch has some grass which will cheered by the medium-pacers from both sides.

Madhya Pradesh coach Harvinder Sodhi feels that there may be some bounce in the pitch. “The pitch look good and there is some grass also which will initially help the medium paces” he said.

Bundela is happy with the pitch as he has four medium-pacers at his command, including Ishwar Pandey. “It is the first match for both of us. We have a good mixture of experience and young. We will be missing the services of Ojha and Saxena but life goes on.” he said.

Meanwhile, Raina, who hailed the Test series win over New Zealand under Virat Kohli, opines that neutral ground pose a big challenge to both teams. “ Playing at a neutral venues will be challenging for us. We have not played any game in neutral venues. We do not how the ground will behave. We have no idea about the sort of wicket we will be playing on. We have a new coach and a new set of players. We remain hopeful, although it is early days, as yet,”he said.

Squads- Uttar Pradesh: Suresh Raina (Captain), Eklavya Dwivedi (VC), Almas Saukat, Umang Sharma, Samarth Singh, Md Saif, Sarfaraz Khan, Praveen Kumar, Ankit Rajput, Imitiaz Ahmed, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Israr Azim Khan, Saurabh Kumar, Deependra Pandey, Amit Mishra, Tanmay Srivastava; Madhya Pradesh: Devendra Bundela (Captain), Mukul Raghav, Aditya Shrivastava, Rajat Patidar, Harpreet Singh, Rameez Singh, Shubham Sharma, Ankit Dane, Ankit Sharma, Mihir Hirwani, Ishwar Pandey, Gaurav Yadav, Ashwin Das, Chandrakant Sakure, Saransh Jain.

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