THE FOUR-DAY Duleep Trophy between West Zone and South Zone will begin at Usha Raje Cricket ground in the City from Thursday.
West Zone team had rigorous net practice in the morning as some players are eagerly waiting to come back to the national team.
The players also had net practice on Tuesday evening. Parthiv Patel would lead the West Zone team. South Zone players, under the leadership of V V S Laxman, had net practice on Wednesday evening. MPCA curator Samunder Singh Chouhan prepared the wicket and the ground is lush green.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Samunder Singh Chouhan said that to help the fast bowler they have left live grass on the wicket and it will be a good sporting wicket. The wicket will be seamers friendly all the four days. Stroke players will take advantage of the wicket, he added.
Stylish middle order batsman VVS Laxman will lead South Zone team. He said that being the first match of Duleep Trophy, they will try to win the match for the good beginning.
West Zone is a good team with experienced players and the match will be evenly poised. According to Laxman, the wicket will be slow and ball will keep low and from the third day onwards it will be spinners friendly.
Laxman said that playing with the most experienced test cricketer Anil Kumble will boost the morale of youngsters. He expressed happiness over the inclusion of Anil in his team. Anil’s experience will help the learning process of the upcoming youngsters, Laxman said.
Laxman said, “My aim is to win the coveted Duleep Trophy for South Zone and I am preparing well to come back to the Indian squad.”
In South Zone team, only eight out of 15 players have arrived and rest of the players are expected to arrive by late Wednesday evening. It is confirmed that Anil Kumble will be playing Thursday’s match.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Y Venugopala Rao said that he was happy to lead in Challengers Trophy. “My job is to perform well and I am not competing with any one and it is left to selectors to do the rest. I am concentrating on bowling too which helps in becoming an all rounder,” Rao said.
Rao opined that it is always good to have seniors and juniors in the team. I have to do well in all the matches and off late there is tough competition to get in to the national team, he said. Initially in the couple of matches he felt the pressure in leading the squad but afterwards he was accustomed in leading the team without any pressure or tension as he was leading the same players and his team coach was also same.
As most of the well-known figures from both the sides are playing on Thursday, the cricket lovers of the city will have a chance to see their favourite players.
The toss will play a vital role as any team that wins the toss would opt to bat first. The first hour of the play will be crucial for the openers as live grass on the wicket will help the seamers.
South Zone : V V S Laxman (c), Robin Uthappa, Y Venugopala Rao,Y Gnaneswara Rao, L Balaji, S Srisanth, S Barinath, Swapnil Asnodkar, Anil Kumble, Dinesh Karthik, Alind Rayudu, Arjun Yadav, Pragyan Ojha, Ibrahim Khaleel and Yo Mahesh. Coach: Abdul Azis and Manager: Shyam.
West Zone: Parthiv Patel (c), Zaheer Khan, Dheeraj Jadhav, Cheteshwar Pujara, Rohit Sharma, Vinit Indulkar, Sairaj Bahutule, Amol Mujumdar, M.S. Maniyar, Ravindra Jadeja, Suyash Burukul, Kiran Powar, Rajesh Pawar, Siddharth Trivedi, Jacob Martin. Coach : Atul Bedade, Manager Pandurang Salgaokar.
Umpires: Sudhir Asnani (Indore) Gomes (Kolkotta), Sunil Choudhry (UP) would be the match referee. Hours of play: 9:30 am to 12 noon, 12.40 pm to 2.40 pm and 3 pm to 4.30 pm.