Railway hold edge over Hyderabad

Published: Thursday, March 17, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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New Delhi:With a full strength squad at their disposal, former champions Railways would start as clear favourites against Hyderabad in the Ranji Trophy Elite group semi-final match beginning here tomorrow.

While the hosts boast of a well knit squad for the encounter, their opponents are still in a rebuilding phase and barring a couple of seniors the team comprises mostly of youngsters.

Led by the reliable Sanjay Bangar, the Railways have always been a force at home and given the recent form of their batsmen Hyderabad bowlers would be in for a struggle on the placid Karnail Singh stadium track.

It has not been a stroll in the park for both the teams thus far but they have shown tremendous resilience to strike back in the last two league matches to reach the knock out phase and none of them would like to let go the chance.

Infact, Railways looked down and out after securing only two points from their first four encounters but came back strongly to pip Gujarat and Delhi for a semifinal berth, thanks to some splendid all round performance by all rounders like J P Yadav and Raja Ali.

Their coach, Vinod Sharma, is once again banking on the all round ability of his players against the young Hyderabad squad led by Arjun Yadav, son of former India international Shivlal Yadav.

"J P Yadav has been in great form this season. And we are very happy that Murali Kartik is back in the squad and that is an added advatage for us", Sharma said.

"He not only bowls very well but has the ability to turn the domestic matches with his batting, which adds much more depth to our line-up," he said.

The only experienced campaigners in the Hyderabad rank are opener Daniel Manohar and medium pacer N P Singh but their coach Rajesh Yadav said that the other squad members had their own strength and they would not be overawed by any opposition.

"My boys have nothing to fear. They have their own strenghts and are young and exuberant," he said after the team's practice session.

But the visitors would surely be missing the stylish VVS Laxman, who is on national duty, as he had played an instrumental role in helping the team qualify for the semis.

Most of the members of the squad have been picked after their excellent performance in the Under-22 championship and it would be important to see how they cope up in the country's premier domestic tournament.

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