Railways look for outright victory against Saurashtra
New Delhi: Railways would be desperately looking for an outright victory when they take on Saurashtra in their last Ranji Trophy Elite Division Group A match at the Karnail Singh Stadium on Wednesday.
Railways have 13 points from six matches and are placed at fourth position in the points table below Karnataka, Mumbai (both of whom have qualified for the quarterfinals) and Punjab (15 points).
A victory here would enhance Railways` chances of advancing to the knock-out stage and they would also hope that Punjab and Uttar Pradesh (13 points) falter in their respective matches.
Six teams -- three each from two Elite division groups -- and two finalists from the Plate group, would qualify for the quarterfinals.
Railways, however, have suffered a major blow ahead of their all-important game after veteran left-arm orthodox spinner Murali Kartik pulled out of the squad citing injury.
And even though another left-armer Nilesh Chauhan from Rajkot has replaced Kartik, how much handy he would turn out to be on a spin-friendly wicket here is anybody`s guess.
Railways would have no choice but to depend on off-spinner Arlen Konwar in Kartik`s absence although he has played only two games this season.
Also in the contention would be Nilesh Chauhan, who has played only a game (against Karnataka) this season, in which he went wicketless.
Meanwhile, opener Shreyas Khanolkar, who also bowls off-spinners, may come in handy for his side.
As far as batting is concerned, Railways would bank heavily on opener Shivkanth Shukla and skipper Sanjay Bangar. They would also expect the likes of Shreyas Khanolkar, Mahesh Rawat, Nitin Bille and Ashish Yadav to stand up and be counted in this crucial game.
Saurashtra, on the other hand, would be low on confidence after their thrashing at the hands of defending champions Rajasthan in the last match.
The visitors, who have a little chance of progressing to the next stage as they are sitting at lowly sixth spot in the table with 11 points from six matches, would be hoping to win with a bonus point, besides praying that other teams in the group to lose their respective matches.
The batting unit comprising of Chirag Pathak, B M Chauhan, Sagar Jogiyani, Cheteshwar Pujara, Jaidev Shah and Shitanshu Kotak though have failed to click as a unit so far in the tournament but have been among runs.
And on Wednesday they can only hope to come out and play as a team.
The bowling department that consists of Siddharth Trivedi, Jaidev Unadkat and Sandip Maniar will also have to put their best foot forward.