'Stuart is the all-rounder India is looking for '

Published: Saturday, September 25, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Bangalore:It's that time of the year when every state Ranji side buckles down to strenuous practice sessions, drawing up strategies for the new season. A formidable entity in the domestic cricket firmament, the Karnataka Ranji team is not far behind.

The preparation for the state Ranji side would begin in right earnest on Monday when the probables would kick off their conditioning camp under the watchful eyes of new coach and former Karnataka captain and all-rounder Karthik Jeswanth.

"We've had shortlisted 45 probables initially but that has been pruned down to 29. We hope the camp would be able to give us a fair idea of where we stand in terms of preparation. The probables have a good mixture of youth and experience. Let's see how it goes," Jeswanth said.

The 39-year-old Jeswanth, who took over the reins from J. Abhiram who had completed his two-year term, said he was under no pressure to deliver. " There is no such pressure that I have to produce results. I've always believed in getting the basics right and the results will take care of itself," he said with a touch of confidence.

The demure, soft-spoken coach, who successfully spearheaded Karnataka to the Ranji Trophy triumph in 1995-96 before calling it a day, felt the team have what it takes to do well.

"I think we've got a relatively good side. We have drafted in seasoned opener Sujit Somasunder, who has been in good nick, turning out for Kerala last season. Our batting will be greatly served with the inclusion of Sujit."

"Then we have skipper Arun Kumar, Vijay Bharadwaj, Roland Barrington to lend solidity to our batting. We've young Robin Uthappa and keeper Thilak Naidu, who is also no spring chicken and also quite a handy batsman down the order," he said.

The Karnataka coach reckoned the bowling has enough firepower to rattle any opposition. " Our bowling is not short on experience. We have got the bowlers who can a bowl out a side twice. "

"Dodda Ganesh has shouldered the mantle of bowling responsibilities admirably last season and we're counting on him to provide us the early breakthroughs. N.C.Aiyappa and Stuart Binny would have to complement him in the seam-bowling department. Vastly experienced Sunil Joshi will lead the spin department. Young talented Udit Patel is another spinner we're looking upto," he remarked.

Jeswanth was particularly chuffed with some of the youngsters in the side and singled out Stuart Binny, son of former India all-rounder Roger Binny as one India material.

"To my mind, Stuart Binny looks cut out for the no.7 slot. He has also the makings of an all-rounder. He is a good striker of the cricket ball and can play the big shots to great effect. Stuart is a promising bowler and can swing the ball both ways.

"India had have tinkered too much for the no 7 slot and I feel Stuart will his all-round abilities will make it the national side sooner than later. N.C.Aiyappa is another good prospect, even Robin Uthappa is shaping up well," he noted.

The Karnataka coach, who has also been associated with state cricket in his role as chairman of selectors in the under-13 and uner-15 categories, however refused to make any prediction about his state's chances of annexing the Ranji Trophy.

"It's still early days to make any prediction on our chances. Let us come off our camp well as our first match against Bengal (November 7 in Kolkota) is still some time away," he said.

On the non-availability of stars like Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble for the state for most part in view of their hectic national duties, Jeswanth said both of have been great servants of Karnataka cricket.

"Rahul and Anil have contributed hugely to Karnataka cricket. Not to have guys like them in the Ranji Trophy because of national duties is not a botheration for us since playing for the country comes first. "

"Of course, if they are free from national engagements, it will be great to have them in the side. We're proud of what they have attained for the country and no praise can be high for them," Jeswanth lavishing praise on two of Karnataka's contemporary leading lights.

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