The Karnataka Ranji Trophy Team is brimming with enthusiasm and expectation after Yere Goud moved from the Railways to captain the side. Also the team now has Venkatesh Prasad to coach them

A few months ago, the Chinnaswamy Stadium corridors buzzed with talk of a famous son returning home. When queried on that, left-arm spinner Murali Kartik said: "What? No way, we will not let him go." There might have been a touch of mock anger in his tone but there was no mistaking the respect and admiration he had for his long-time Railways team mate Yere Goud.Goud is no stranger to Karnataka cricket. His base is Bangalore and he turns up for Malleswaram Gymkhana in the local league. However, he used to play for the Railways, his employer, in the domestic circuit till he switchedd over to Karnataka this season. With 11 years in domestic cricket and backed by 5614 first class runs, he is all set to lead Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy. Karnataka is in the Elite Division's Group A that features reigning champion Uttar Pradesh along with tough teams like Delhi and Tamil Nadu.

New combine

It could well be termed as a season of hope and it might sound clichéd but with Goud as captain and Venkatesh Prasad as coach, the State has a new combine that is rich in experience and high in stature. "We have a good team and the players are focussed. We have given them material on the teams we will play against, their strengths and weakness, their past record and other issues. It has helped us to be mentally prepared. Besides we also pushed them out of their comfort zone, especially during our training at Mysore, which also included a trek in Bandipur. The KSCA has provided everything we asked for and now it is time for us to go out and perform," Goud said brimming with optimism.Before the focus shifts to the opening tie against Baroda at Vadodara on November 23, did Goud ever feel apprehensive about switching over to Karnataka? "Yes, I did feel apprehensive about how the players would accept me here. Of course, I have played with and against some of them in the local league but I was a bit worried about the welcome I would get. But then I have to admit that the players have been very warm to me, they accepted me and it made my job easier. This team has tremendous spirit and I am happy here."According to coach Venkatesh Prasad, Goud bring a load of experience to the table. "He has a wealth of experience and he is such a good player. He is a sensible batsman who knows how to play in a particular situation. He is good at building partnerships, rotating the strike and he brings enormous depth to the middle order. Plus he is a member of the Ranji Trophy winning Railways teams. That should help the team too."Goud has his own take on the subject: "I have played for so many years, against various teams on varied surfaces. I try and convey all that I have learnt to the players here. I think last season Karnataka could have done a few changes in its batting order. I will be batting at number five now and I also tell the players that after all the planning and strategies, what is important is how you react to a situation and play accordingly."All-rounder B. Akhil, a key player in the squad, gushed about his skipper: "There is so much to learn from him. He is so knowledgeable and he keeps pushing us to perform better. We have never prepared with so much intensity like the way we did this time around. He is such a shrewd thinker of the game and seeing him, even we are forced to be on our toes."Eleven years, consistent performances and yet the missing India cap. It could well sum up the Yere Goud story but he is far from finished. For the 34-year-old motivation now stems from leading Karnataka. "Helping this team improve gives me tremendous motivation. We have the talent, we just have to perform out there on the field. K.C. VIJAYA KUMAR

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