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HP sniff knockout spot

As Himachal would stride onto the Harbaksh Stadium turf on Thursday against a J&K team that has assumed the belittling label of "whipping boys", they will have more than a keen eye on proceedings at Kotla, where Delhi play Haryana.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 22:42 IST
Arjun Sen
Arjun Sen
None

As Himachal would stride onto the Harbaksh Stadium turf on Thursday against a J&K team that has assumed the belittling label of "whipping boys", they will have more than a keen eye on proceedings at Kotla, where Delhi play Haryana. Having lost to Haryana, HP would be banking on Delhi to beat Haryana, which would make take them to the brink of qualification from the group.

HP have fared reasonably well so far and, though criticised for a team selected on "political basis", have beaten both Services and Delhi, that too with a bonus point. With two wins out of three, and another very likely on Thursday, HP has a strong chance to make it to the podium for a second place finish. HP depends primarily on Sandeep Sharma, Sangram Singh and Manivinder Bisla in their batting, and banks on rookies Vikramjeet Malik and Vishal Bhatia, for their wicket-taking abilities, and against J&K it'll be no different.

For J&K, this will be yet another opportunity to notch up a few, much needed, points. The players don't seem to enjoy their cricket and look much happier off the field. Apart from Kanwaljeet Singh, Indrajeet Singh, and pacer Abid Nabi, no one looks to have the competence to play at this level. The lack of infrastructure in the Valley and the extreme weather conditions, which restrict cricket to two to three months a year, could be cited as the reasons for their abysmal showing.

All J&K can hope for is that their opponents get complacent, and could be caught napping. As for HP, they have to make sure they win with a bonus point, and the rub of the green at Kotla goes their way.

SQUADS

Himachal Pradesh: Nischal Gaur (captain), Sandeep Sharma, Manvinder Bisla, Ashok Thakur, Vijay Boon, Vishal Bhatia, Rajeev Nayyar, Rahul Pantha, Manish Gupta, Rajender Thakur, Jeetender Mehta, Sangram Singh, Abhineesh Sharma, and Paras Dogra

J&K: Dhruv Mahajan (captain), Arshad Bhatt (vice-captain/wk), Kanwaljit Singh, Sameer Khajuria, Raman Datta, Mayank Goswami, Naseer Wani, Fayaz Hazari, Abid Nabi, Inderjeet Singh, Pawan Mahajan, Javed Ahmed, Rouf Bisati, Imtiyaz Sheikh, Vivek Singh, Shashi Kumar, Shafqat Baba and Abid Salam.