Dinda is our biggest threat, says Central skipper Kaif
Chennai: Central Zone skipper Mohammad Kaif today conceded that pacer Ashok Dinda will be the "biggest threat" for his team going into the Duleep trophy final against East Zone here tomorrow.
East Zone spearhead Dinda had claimed seven for 26 in their drawn match against South Zone in the semifinals last Wednesday and Kaif said his batsmen will need to play him well to put up a good score on board.
Asked if he sees Ashok Dinda as the biggest threat from East Zone, Kaif said: "Yes, the last time also he bowled 40-50 overs in one innings. So he can bowl long spells, but at the same time, East Zone will be depending on him. So if we can play him well, we`ll be at an advantage.
So what exactly will be their strategy against Dinda, he answered,"Keep it simple, hopefully! The opening partnership will be very important. The openers will need to step up and build a partnership. That will build the foundation to get a big total on the board," he added.
Asked about Central Zone`s likely playing XI, Kaif said: "We have a few injury issues that needs to be addressed. Praveen Kumar has a fracture and he`ll be missing out on this game. He was here yesterday, now he`s going to go back to Delhi tonight.
"Piyush Chawla of course missed out last game, he had some injury issue. He will be missing out this game also. So we`ll be missing some key players but it`s a good opportunity for others."
The former India player also heaped praise on Bhuvneshwar Kumar, who scored a career-best 128 in the semifinals to take Central Zone to the finals.
"He plays for UP and always contributes, if not big hundreds, he always makes 50`s and important 40`s. So he`s been doing well. This time was the biggest stage for him and he really showed some character," he said.
"I was not surprised at all by his (Bhuvneshwar) batting. Getting a hundred is of course a big achievement, but all the players knew, he could bat. Winning the game like that, showing lots of smartness, staying at the crease was very good."
Asked about his own form, Kaif said: "I`ve been playing well in domestic cricket. Last year also I had a good season. In fact, my Duleep Trophy form has been good, so I`m looking to continue that.
"Last couple of games I`ve got big runs ? a couple of double hundreds. Year before last I got two hundreds. One year I missed out against South Zone in the final, but yes, the Duleep Trophy you get lots of international players playing, so it`s always going to be tough. But we need to stay out there and fight it out," he said.
Rain might come into the picture in the final as there have been predictions of thundershowers. Asked if there is any special strategy, Kaif said: "There`s lot of time still. It`s going to be five plus one day, there`s an extra day. If both first innings aren`t completed, there`s an extra day. I`m not sure if the extra-day rule will apply or not for a rain-affected match. I`ll have to find out."
Meanwhile, East zone Coach Subhrajit Saika said they were ken to prove their detractors wrong. "We are well prepared and hope to do well. We have talented cricketers in our team. We were rated as a weak team by the rivals then and now. We have proved them wrong by winning the Duleep trophy last year. There are no major injuries. There may be one or two changes in the playing eleven tomorrow," he said.