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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Madhya Pradesh will have the difficult task of playing Vidarbha on their own field in the semi-final of the Ranji Trophy 2024


<p>The traditional rivals meet in the Ranji Trophy semifinal here starting on Saturday. A determined Madhya Pradesh will have the difficult challenge of taming Vidarbha in their home pitch, which the hosts have converted into an impenetrable fortress this season.</p>
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<p>This season, Vidarbha, the reigning champions, have played four games at the VCA Stadium. They have won three of them, with Saurashtra being their lone loss.</p>
<p>These triumphs, which included seven wickets against Services, 115 runs against Haryana, and 127 runs against Karnataka in the semifinals, all had comfortable margins of victory.</p>
<p>Throughout this season, Vidarbha’s batsmen’s combined effort has been their greatest asset.</p>
<p>In veteran Karun Nair (515 runs), import Dhruv Shorey (496 runs), top-order batsman Atharva Taide (488) and captain Akshay Wadkar (452), they have discovered distinct heroes. They’ve all bailed them out of the woods at various times.</p>
<p>Although the Nagpur pitch has often benefited the hitters, Vidarbha has also been lucky to have two fierce spinners in left-arm spinner Aditya Sarwate and pacer Aditya Thakare.</p>
<p>Together, they have taken 68 wickets so far this season, seldom letting their opponents control the game.</p>
<p>Against Karnataka, Sarwate’s four-wicket burst proved instructive.</p>
<p>At the end of the fourth day, Karnataka was chasing 371 runs and had reached 103 for 1. However, Sarwate bowled a brilliant session on the fifth day, dismissing the visitors for 243.</p>
<p>Giving Vidarbha the advantage based on that home run, however, could also not be quite fair.</p>
<p>The 2022 winners, Madhya Pradesh, have made it past fire rings and into the last four phases.</p>
<p>In eight league games, they only secured three complete victories, but in other games, they fought valiantly to take an early lead.</p>
<p>Even in the quarterfinal encounter with Andhra, MP came close to losing but managed to rally for a four-run victory.</p>
<p>The greatest thing that has gone well for them this season has been Venkatesh Iyer’s newfound desire to score runs. Iyer, who has struggled with the Indian cricket team, has scored 528 runs at an average of 52, including 104 fifty-scores.</p>
<p>The left-hander has had strong backing from Yash Dubey (510) and Himanshu Mantri (513). Since Rajat Patidar is away on national service, they have taken on the burden of leading the MP batting attack.</p>
<p>The mainstay of MP’s bowling attack will be the adaptable Kumar Kartikeya, who bowls both wrist and conventional left-arm spin.</p>
<p>This season, the Mumbai Indians all-rounder has added 38 wickets to his team’s bowling total.</p>
<p>Kartikeya has been well-supported by left-arm bowler Kulwant Khejroliya (26 wickets) and veteran off-spinner Saransh Jain (27 wickets).</p>
<p>Beyond all of them, however, MP’s greatest asset is its head coach, the smart strategist Chandrakant Pandit.</p>
<p>Under duress, the strict taskmaster is adept at getting the most out of his charges.</p>
<p>The Vidarbha team can attest to it, since Pandit was responsible for planning their championship runs in the 2017–18 and 2018–19 seasons.</p>
<p><strong>Groups:</strong></p>
<p><strong>Vidarbha:</strong> Mohit Kale, Aditya Sarwate, Harsh Dubey, Yash Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Aditya Thakare, Faiz Fazal, Akshay Wakhare, Sanjay Raghunath, Rajneesh Gurbani, Lalit M Yadav, Siddhesh Wath, Jitesh Sharma, Darshan Nalkande, Shubham Dubey.</p>
<p><strong>Madhya Pradesh:</strong> Amarjeet Singh, Aditya Shrivastava, Mihir Hirwani, Rishabh Chouhan, Aryan Pandey, Venkatesh Iyer, Sumit Kushwah, Saransh Jain, Anubhav Agarwal, Kumar Kartikeya, Avesh Khan, Kulwant Khejroliya, and Himanshu Mantri (wk).</p>


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