A determined Railways take on Punjab in a Ranji Trophy Elite Group A match starting on Tuesday. The teams have played six matches each and Punjab have 16 points as against Railways’s 13. With Tamil Nadu already in the quarter-finals with 23 points and Mumbai on 16, this is a do-or-die match for both Punjab and Railways.
Railways have their task cut out and a lot depends on how they handle the in-form pace duo of Love Ablish and Manpreet Gony. They have 31 wickets between them in the last two matches and eager to add to the tally. “The past couple of games have been good for us and there is no reason why we cannot carry on with that,” said Gony.
However, the pitch at the Karnail Singh Stadium is on the slower side and may offer uneven bounce. “The outfield is good but the slowness of the track will not help the pacers on either side,” said Murali Kartik, the Railways skipper. “We have had some unfortunate incidents previously that were beyond our control, but the team is intent on putting up a good fight,” said Kartik of the two matches featuring his side, which were affected by rain. Punjab, on the other hand, are a young side and the spirit of youth was evident in the practice session on Monday. Their opponents, however, have some seasoned campaigners led by Kartik to tame the youth brigade.
Railways drew five of their matches before thrashing Gujarat by an innings in the last one. It’s crucial for them that Sanjay Bangar shows the kind of form he did in that game at Valsad, where he took five wickets and scored a century.
Shailendra Gehlot, Santosh Saxena and Karthik are the other players to watch out for.