Rajasthan desperate for victory against Punjab
Jaipur: Languishing at second last position at the points table, defending champions Rajasthan would look to notch up their first win when they take on Punjab in their Ranji Trophy Elite Division match starting at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium on .
With four points from as many matches and winless so far, Rajasthan would be wary of a possible relegation to the Plate group with only Orissa below them at the bottom in the eight-team Group A.
Punjab are in a more comfortable position at fourth in the table with nine points from four outings.
Rajasthan have so far failed to put their act together and they will have the deliver the goods now or face the possibility of relegation.
Their batting show has been decent if not superb with Ashok Menaria hitting a double hundred and Akash Chopra and Robin Bisht scoring centuries.
But, their bowling has been a big worry. Twice against Railways and Mumbai, Rajasthan conceded first innings lead after piling up 500 plus scores and even at the home ground let Uttar Pradesh off the hook to raise a huge 492.
Deepak Chahar, who is considered the `find` in the previous season, has been consistent but his pace colleague Pankaj Singh has been off-colour.
Vivek Yadav and the rest looked pretty ordinary despite the wily leg-spinner coming up with a five wicket haul in the previous match.
Worried by their bowling resources, Rajasthan have roped in former South African medium pacer Meyrick Pringle as the bowling coach for the three remaining matches.
"I don`t have a magic wand. I can rectify a few technical mistakes but need a longer run to show results. Regarding Pankaj Singh he is bending his knee while delivering the ball and his left hand position is also not good. Deepak Chahar is not a big guy he needs to be preserved and used in shorter spells," Pringle said.
On the other hand, Punjab coach and former India batsman Vikram Rathore was pretty assured about his side`s performance.
"We are in a comfortable position at fourth place with nine points whereas Rajasthan are desperate for a win. That suits us. We have some tough teams to play in remaining matches. A couple of first innings lead or an outright victory would ensure us a top six qualifying place," he said.
Talking about India discard Harbhajan Singh being forced out of the remaining matches of the season due to shin injury, Rathore conceded that the veteran off-spinner would be missed.
"He is great bowler and we would certainly miss him but have a young looking side. We had a bad outing against Saurashtra but otherwise the younger lot has been delivering the goods," He said.
"Host Rajasthan are desperate for a victory and they might a green top but that would not worry us. We have the experience of playing at Mohali`s green top here the wickets eases out with time," Rathore said.
Rajasthan skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar felt otherwise.
"I am against having a wicket which has green top or an under-prepared one. I would prefer a sporting wicket. We have to perform to snatch a victory. I am fit and so is the rest of the squad. It would be a good contest," he said.
India Under-19 captain Ashok Menaria, who led the side in the absence of injured Kanitkar in the previous match against Uttar Pradesh, said that the Rajasthan need to play aggressive cricket.
"It is docile wicket here and we need to play aggressively to carve out a victory," he said.
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