It has been a disappointing show so far from Kerala at the Ranji Trophy this season. A series of underwhelming performances ended its qualification chances.
The host will be playing for pride and will be searching for its first win when it takes on a strong Bengal side in the Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match at the St. Xavier’s College ground here on Friday.
However, Kerala, which is lying sixth in the table with eight points, will have to improve on all fronts to challenge the fourth placed Bengal which has been boosted by the return of Abhimanyu Easwaran, Shabaz Ahmed and Akash Deep from their India A duty.
Kerala’s biggest worry has been its inconsistent batting. Barring Sachin Baby, who is the fourth highest run scorer this season, none of the other batters, including skipper Sanju Samson, could hit full stride.
Ruinous batting collapses was the malaise that befell Kerala and the team often struggled to put enough runs on board to test the opposition. Basil Thampi and M.D. Nidheesh had their moments with the ball but Jalaj Saxena, who was supposed to be Kerala’s potent weapon, struggled and so did Shreyas Gopal.
But Jalaj has a good record at St. Xavier’s College ground and will look for a breakthrough performance against Bengal.
Task cut out
“We are up against a good side and we have our task cut out. We will try to be competitive. It is a good wicket and the toss will be crucial. We are thinking of playing an extra medium pacer. But the batters will have to do their job. We had some positives from the last match, hopefully we can replicate it in this match too,’’ said Kerala coach K. Venkataramana.
The weather robbed Bengal of valuable points and the side finds itself in a must win situation against Kerala. The former champion, led by Manoj Tiwary, is trying to regroup after suffering a heavy defeat to Mumbai. I
ndia `A’ players are back and the near full strength Bengal can be more than a handful for the host.
“We must win this game. We had a bad game against Mumbai but we feel confident as the players on India A duty have joined the team. It is a result oriented wicket.
“We have all areas covered. But Kerala will be a tough side to beat at home,’’ said Bengal coach Laxmi Ratan Shukla.