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Bhajji, Raina aim for a fresh start; Ganguly adds flavour

cricket Updated: Nov 03, 2011 01:47 IST
Ashutosh Sharma/HTC
Ashutosh Sharma/HTC
Hindustan Times
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The season opener between Punjab and Uttar Pradesh will mostly be about Harbhajan Singh and Suresh Raina, who are both looking to chart their return to the India squad for the West Indies home series and the tour of Australia.

Bhajji has been dropped after poor form followed by injury forced his early return from the England tour. Raina was clueless on seaming pitches in England and has also been axed from the squad for the first Test against the visiting West Indies.

Punjab coach Vikram Rathore saw the positive side. "Bhajji is a great player and a fighter. It's a matter of time before he makes a comeback. He can be an asset on any track though Mohali has generally not provided any support to the spinners."

Uttar Pradesh skipper Raina feels Ranji Trophy is the right platform to prove his worth.

"I am hitting the ball well. I did well in West Indies where we won the series 1-0. It is important to enjoy the game. I have been talking to former players and know whenever I get the chance I will once again do well in the longer version of the game."

This season very crucial for me: Patel

Kolkata: The Bengal-Gujarat Ranji Trophy Super League tie, beginning at the Eden Gardens here on Thursday, pits the two most eligible wicketkeepers after Mahendra Singh Dhoni against each other.

With the tough and long Australia tour coming up next month, India would definitely want to travel with a second 'keeper. Both Parthiv Patel and Wriddhiman Saha are aware of that. Saha, however, has the upperhand, having been selected as the second wicketkeeper on the tours of West Indies and England this year.

Patel pointed out the importance of the next few months. "This season is very crucial for me. I have played almost every ODI after we won the World Cup. Naturally, I would want a good performance," said Patel, who is captaining Gujarat.

Once Test cricket's youngest wicketkeeper, after he was called to replace Ajay Ratra before the second Test against England at Trent Bridge in the summer of 2002, Patel has not been consistent. In the recently concluded series, Patel, as stop-gap opener, scored all of 67 runs in four ODIs. A strong performance in the Ranji Trophy could help his cause before the Australia touring party is chosen. But the pressure of leading a relatively young and inexperienced side does not affect him.