Uttar Pradesh's advantage this Ranji season is that five of their six matches in the league phase are at home. The draw too is relatively easy and getting to the knockout stages should not be difficult.
Among the three top teams in the Elite Group B, besides Karnataka and Baroda, Mohd Kaif and Co started well by managing three points against Punjab in their opening match last week.
Up next is a relatively easy outing against Orissa at the Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta Stadium from Wednesday. The 22-yard strip bore a near bald look and a sudden change in climate on Tuesday forced the two sides to revisit their plans.
"A final look at the pitch and weather conditions before the start will help us finalise the XI," said Kaif. "So far, we have done well on this track, but we hope to make a few changes for this match. We would like to exploit the home advantage but we aren't taking them lightly."
Besides Suresh Raina, who is engaged in the Test series against New Zealand, UP will also miss the services of last match's man-of-the-match Praveen Kumar, who is nursing an elbow injury. He has been replaced by young speedster Imtiyaz Ahmed. Praveen's absence has also paved the way for left-arm seamer Shalabh Srivastava to make it to the XI.
The third seamer would be Sudeep Tyagi, while leggie Piyush Chawla is expected to share the old ball with debutant Ashish Yadav, who has already cemented his place in the one-day and T20 squads. UP's batting would revolve around Tanmay Srivastava, Shivakant Shukla, Kaif and Parvinder.
Orissa skipper, Shiv Sundar Das, too appeared confident of a good match, especially after his side managed three points against Baroda at Cuttack last week. "It was a great start, so we are hopeful. We plan to field the same XI but changes could be announced on the morrow."