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Backyard not an advantage for Baroda

Home advantage traditionally plays a crucial role in the outcome of most Ranji Trophy ties. However, as Baroda prepared for their semi-final encounter against Karnataka, which starts at the Reliance Stadium on Monday, instead of carrying the tag of the favourites, the hosts have received a double jolt. Amol Karhadkar reports.

cricket Updated: Jan 03, 2011 00:05 IST
Amol Karhadkar

Home advantage traditionally plays a crucial role in the outcome of most Ranji Trophy ties. However, as Baroda prepared for their semi-final encounter against Karnataka, which starts at the Reliance Stadium on Monday, instead of carrying the tag of the favourites, the hosts have received a double jolt.

As the two teams slogged it out at the stadium far from the city centre on Sunday, the Baroda cricketers looked as much in need to get acclimatized with the stadium as their Karnataka counterparts. After all, they have played all their home matches as the Moti Bagh ground, which has been their preferred venue for all the domestic ties. But after last year's annihilation by an innings and 100-plus runs by Karnataka at the Moti Bagh, which is known to assist seam bowlers, the Baroda Cricket Association bigwigs decided to shift the tie to the stadium that hosts international ties in the town of the Gaekwads. Naturally, it would be difficult for Pinal Shah and his boys to derive any sort of home advantage.

The hosts are already a depleted bunch due to the absence of star duo Yusuf Pathan and Munaf Patel, both having been selected for India's one-day international series in South Africa. This makes matters even more difficult for wicketkeeper-batsman Shah who is leading the side to manage his troops and give Karnataka a run for the money.

Shah could take a lot of heart out of the fact that Karnataka skipper R Vinay Kumar, who has been as consistent with the ball as ever throughout the season, skipped practice due to cold and fever. Though Karnataka coach Sanath Kumar was confident he would be available for the game, Vinay rushed to the hotel after being with the team for around half an hour during practice that meant Karnataka could gamble with fielding a half-fit captian.

Teams

Baroda: P Shah (c), CWilliams, A Rayudu, J Kolsawala, K Devdhar, R Solanki, M Vahora, S Vohra, B Bhatt, S Singh, J Chhaya, A Argal, A Karambelkar, A Waghmode, S Mangalorkar.

Karnataka: Vinay Kumar (c), R Uthappa, K Pawan, G Satish, M Pandey, A Verma, CM Gautam, S Binny, S Joshi, A Mithun, S Arvind, U Patel, K Rahul, A Sagar, Sunil N Raju.