Confident Karnataka have the advantage

Rahul, Karun boost for State in Hyderabad tie

Confident Karnataka have the advantage

Ahead of their Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ tie here, the atmosphere in the two camps couldn’t have been more contrasting.

Karnataka, after routing Assam by an innings and 121 runs in their season opener, are brimming with confidence and appear more powerful, thanks to the presence of batsmen K L Rahul and Karun Nair. Hyderabad, however, are a frustrated bunch after their first two games were washed out at home due to rain.

An interesting battle is on cards when both sides lock horns here at the KSCA Navile Stadium from Tuesday. While the hosts would be hoping to keep the momentum on their side and go atop the table with a win, Hyderabad cannot afford to do too many things wrong.

Visitors’ coach J Arun Kumar underlined the importance of the game on Monday.

“For two weeks we haven’t bowled a single ball and I am feeling bad for the boys. With two matches already gone out of hands, the boys will have to do doubly well to make an impact in this season. They have to convert their starts into hundreds and double hundreds. Bowlers will have to take more five and seven-wicket hauls,” said the former Karnataka batsman.

Apart from the return of the star duo of Rahul and Nair, the fact that the stadium will be hosting its first ever Ranji game has further upped the interest levels among the fans here.

With a surface that appears doled out keeping the batsmen in mind, Karnataka will have a slight edge courtesy their decorated line-up.

The hosts will go in with the opening pair of Rahul and R Samarth while right-hand batsman Mir Kaunain Abbas could find it hard to make it to the playing XI. Leg-spinning all-rounder Shreyas Gopal had a decent start to the tournament, taking three wickets in the first innings against Assam and knowing his abilities with the bat, Karnataka could persist with him.

“It looks like a batting friendly wicket. The moisture in the first hour of play could help the bowlers. Mayank (Agarwal) will drop down the order and bat at number three. We will decide on the final combination tomorrow (Tuesday) morning,” captain R Vinay Kumar told reporters on Monday.

Rahul, who was dropped from the one-day international squad for the ongoing three-match series against New Zealand, will be eager to get some runs under the belt. Hyderabad will have to keep a check on Nair, who has a penchant for big scores.

Hyderabad will look up to their senior duo of captain Ambati Rayudu and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha. Young medium pacer Mohmammed Siraj has worked his way to be one of the key members of the Hyderabad attack.

DH News Service

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