Ranji debacle pricks 2nd Test hosts | india | Hindustan Times
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Ranji debacle pricks 2nd Test hosts

The Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) is trying to present the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium as a magnificent edifice representing its rich heritage. Atreyo Mukhopadhyay reports.

india Updated: Nov 11, 2010 00:47 IST
Atreyo Mukhopadhyay

The Hyderabad Cricket Association (HCA) is trying to present the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium as a magnificent edifice representing its rich heritage.

From fading old photographs of Gul Mohammad, a sharper black-and-white print of ML Jaisimha to bright enlargements of more contemporary Hyderabad players who have played Test cricket such as Mohammad Azharuddin, VVS Laxman and even Pragyan Ojha - the swank new stadium doesn't waste a second in reminding a newcomer of Hyderabad's proud lineage.

The sense of pride evident in hosting a Test for the first time in a stadium owned by the HCA though is in sharp contrast to the current state of Hyderabad cricket.

As if being relegated to Plate League of the Ranji Trophy last season was not bad enough, the team started the new season with a shocking defeat against Rajasthan when they were bowled out for the lowest-ever Ranji total of 21 in the first innings.

"We tried to follow a process this year by getting the junior and senior teams to train together. We sent the team to two outstation pre-season tournaments and also fielded three teams in our Moin-ud-Dowlah Gold Cup. One of them won the title, becoming the first HCA team to win it after 14 years. Rajasthan was shocking after all that," said HCA president and former India off-spinner Arshad Ayub.

The HCA has also Shivlal Yadav and Venkatapathy Raju as vice-presidents and the trio has between them played 76 Tests.

Raju quit as coach after that defeat. "We wanted him to stay and the selectors made six changes in the team, but he didn't listen," said Ayub.

Raju was unhappy with the team selection before the Rajasthan match and among the players dropped thereafter is Shivlal's son Arjun who has played 73 first-class matches as batsman averaging 28.25.

Even though Hyderabad have VVS Laxman and Pragyan Ojha in the India team, last year they had just one player in the South Zone side.

The return of Test cricket to Hyderabad will enhance the HCA's image in the short run, but it has a lot to do to revive its own team.