Rural face of Indian cricket; so be it! The Haryanvi cricketer is proud of playing for the State. Three quarterfinal spots in the last three years and the Ranji Trophy semifinal clash with Rajasthan at the Chaudhary Bansi Lal Stadium here from Tuesday places Haryana among the elite teams of domestic circuit.
A win here will mean a lot to a bunch of cricketers who hardly get any credit for their wonderful work on the field.
With an encouraging show against Karnataka in the last match, Haryana has come a long way from the team that once struggled to qualify for the knockout phase.
A stirring Ranji Trophy win under Kapil Dev in 1990-91 was a landmark moment for Haryana cricket and the subsequent years have continued to enhance Haryana's standing as a team that loves to fight.
The legacy to fight was created by two spin stalwarts, Rajinder Goel (750 first class wickets) and Sarkar Talwar (357), who are respected to this day for their priceless contribution to Haryana cricket.
Rajasthan has acquired a reputation too.
It looks the defending champion team that it is. Robin Bist, boasting of an aggregate of 841 runs with four centuries, stands tall with young Ashok Menaria playing his role well even though he missed the last match against Hyderabad.
Skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar continues to be the force behind Rajasthan's excellent show along with consistent scorer Vineet Saxena.
“We are a team that believes in playing like a team. It helps us to believe in our collective strength.
“I am proud the way the boys have fought in every match,” said Haryana coach Ashwani Kumar, a dogged batsman in his heyday.
Unsung despite sterling batting displays, Nitin Saini (603), Sunny Singh (592) and Rahul Dewan (590) have served the team in the most adverse circumstances.
The eight-wicket haul in Karnataka's first innings by Harshal Patel only underlined the fact that Haryana is a compact side with strength in every department.
Weather permitting one can expect an intense contest here. The open ambience adds to the competitive flavour of the match. It is for the strong-hearted players to grab the opportunity.
The teams (from):
Haryana: Amit Mishra (capt.), Nitin Saini, Rahul Dewan, Sunny Singh, Prateek Pawar, Sachin Rana, Priyank Tehlan, Jayant Yadav, Mohit Sharma, Harshal Patel, Ashish Hooda, Sandeep Singh, Sandeep Godara, Yuzvendra Chahal and Abhimanyu Khod.
Rajasthan: Hrishikesh Kanitkar (capt.), Aakash Chopra, Vineet Saxena, Robin Bist, R.R. Parida, Puneet Yadav, Dishant Yagnik, Vivek Yadav, Gajendra Singh, Pankaj Singh, Sumit Mathur, Aniket Choudhary, Vaibhav Deshpande, Rituraj Singh and Shamsher Singh.