Do-or-die battle on hand for Hyderabad and Punjab

Published: Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 11:52 [IST]
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Hyderabad, Jan 9: It will be a do-or-die battle for hosts Hyderabad and Punjab in the crucial last Elite Group-B league match in the Ranji trophy championship beginning here tomorrow.

With Bengal having ensured itself of a place in the semi-finals, the remaining teams in the Group are now vying for the other slot.

With Mumbai being better placed, Hyderabad and Punjab have only an outside chance of a berth. Mumbai will also be playing their last match against Mahrashtra.

If Mumbai gain just two points from their match, whoever gains four points from the match here will strengthen their chances of a semis berth.

Having collected four points from an outright victory against Mumbai and Punjab gaining two points for first innings lead against Mumbai, the race for the semis berth will be between the three teams.

Hoping for a win, the home team has prepared a seaming wicket with Hyderabad's seam bowlers Kaushik Reddy , M P Arjun and Alfred Absolom doing a fine job so far. With V V S Lakshman back at the helm and the find of the season D B Ravi in great form, Hyderabad's top order looks good, with in form batsmen Anirudh Singh, Arjun Yadav and Vinay Kumar their middle order also looks solid. They have a long tail with Ibrahim Khaleel, Kaushik Reddy, P I S Reddy and Pragyan Ojha in form.

On the other hand Punjab, reinforced by the arrival of Dinesh Mongia, V R V Singh and Harbhajan Singh, will give Hyderabad a run for their money. They have five past and present Indian players including R S Sodi.

The only worrying factor for them is the seaming wicket.

Incidentally, off-spinner Harbhajan singh did not attend the morning session of the nets.

However, Punjab medium pacer V R V Singh said the wicket looks similar to the one at Mohali.

''We have played plenty of games at Mohali. We hope we can handle the situation very well here. We are professional. We have to give 100 per cent. It is going to be a highly competitive game. Though Hyderabad is a good side , our aim is to winfull five points'', he said.

Replying to a question, he said the competition among pace bowlers in any domestic game was good for him as it gave him an opportunity to perform better.

Hyderabad captain V V S Laxman was optimistic about his team's chances of winning the match. Talking to newspersons he said, ''I hope we can beat Punjab and gain five points. The team played very well throughout the season. It is unfortunate that one bad innings in one particular session landed us in trouble. Now we have to regroup all our resources to march ahead.'' He said ''We will go into this game positively. It is a do-or-die battle for the team. I always enjoy such challenges. I am looking forward to contribute for the win. I am hoping for a good show by all our boys in this crucial match. We need to bat atleast four sessions at a faster rate and put up good total in the first innings. Punjab is a good side with the mixture of young and experienced. It's going to be a good tie between two highly competitive teams' he added.

Commenting on Group -B league, he said, ''It's good that there are lot of outright victories in this format. You see Mumbai had no points in the first three matches. Now with two outright victories with bonus points they are in contention for the semi final berth.

The system is good and gives scope for every team to perform better and gain resutls, he added.

Points position : Group-B Teams Matches Points Run Quotient 1 Bengal 5 12 1.0766530 2 Mumbai 5 10 1.1839500 3 Punjab 5 8 1.2765329 4 Hyderabad 5 8 1.1321376 5 Maharashtra 5 7 1.3670895 6 Rajasthan 5 4 0.5713684 7 Gujarat 6 4 0.7950553 The teams: Hyderabad: VVS Laxman(Capt), Anirudh Singh, Suman, Shashank Nag, Arjun Yadav, Vinay Kumar, Ibrahim Khaleel(WK), Pragyan Ojha, Kaushik Reddy, Alfred Absolom, M P Arjun, Shivshanker, Indra Sekhar Reddy, Niranjan, Santosh Yadav.

Punjab: Pankaj Dharmani(Capt), Dinesh Mongia, Harbhajan Singh, VRV Singh, Reetinder Sodhi, Karan Goel, Ravneet Ricky, Gagandeep Singh, Gaurav Gupta, Uday Kaul, Love Ablish, Ishan Malhotra, Gaurav Marwah, Varun Khanna, Rahul Sharma.

Umpires : S K Sharma (Mumbai) and S Dendapani (Cochin). Match Referee: Padam Shastri (Rajasthan).


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