Hyderabad take crucial lead | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Hyderabad take crucial lead

“We have the team to reach the final,” says Hyderabad selector Youraj Singh as he watches his young side battling it out with champions Delhi at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, reports Arjun Sen.

cricket Updated: Nov 13, 2008 00:23 IST
Arjun Sen

“We have the team to reach the final,” says Hyderabad selector Youraj Singh as he watches his young side battling it out with champions Delhi at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium.

Such a statement from Singh would have been met with incredulity and sniggers last season. After all, Hyderabad had just lost eight first team players to the Indian Cricket League, leaving the selectors with no option but to fall back on a bunch of teenagers to make up the numbers and play the Ranji Trophy.

“We didn’t have eleven players to make up the state team after so many of our players left for the Indian Cricket League,” Singh says. “We decided to call up the U-19 and U-22 players and throw them in the deep end.”

It was a move that many believed would lead Hyderabad towards the ignominy of relegation. And, had it not been for their arch rivals Andhra beating Bengal, Hyderabad were destined for the drop. “We achieved our aim – to stay up,” says Singh. “We knew it would be tough for the inexperienced youngsters to come in and compete in the Ranji Trophy at once.”

Last season may not have been the best in terms of where Hyderabad finished, but it proved to be the ideal learning curve for the youngsters. “It gave the boys belief that they could stand their own at the highest level. They were confident,” Singh says.

And it was this new-found confidence which led Hyderabad to the U-22 South Zone title. Buoyed by their Ranji display, the players beat traditional powerhouses Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to go all the way to the title.

That win, Singh says, was the start of the revival in Hyderabad cricket. “The boys started gelling together, there was a new-found cohesiveness in the team. They were confident of their ability to take on the best.”

This season has started with a lot of that promise. First, playing away at Orissa, Hyderabad managed three points on the back of a first innings lead, and then, Hyderabad’s youth brigade assured themselves of three vital points with a well-deserved first innings lead against the champs.