VVS and Ojha to play Ranji game against Goa

For someone who played 129 Tests, the 37-year-old Vangipurapu Venkata Sai Laxman just could not resist the temptation to play a Ranji Trophy game against Goa from November 29. Reason? His intense desire to see that Hyderabad gets promoted back into the Elite Group from the existing Plate Group (literally comprising second grade teams).

“Yes, we are delighted that Laxman will be back as the captain and his mere presence should lift the morale of the team,” feels Hyderabad Ranji selection panel chairman Abdul Azeem.

Double delight

“In fact, it is double delight that both Laxman and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha are available for this match,” he added.

The palpable sense of huge relief on the faces of Hyderabad selectors is understandable given the inconsistent run of the Ranji team this season which it began with big talk of ushering in a new chapter. After settling for a tame draw against Jharkhand and then losing to Maharashtra, it salvaged some pride by beating Assam to pick full points.

The fact that Hyderabad has to win the next two games – against Goa and Jammu & Kashmir (in the city) – has apparently prompted Laxman to play for the State team. “I always look at Ranji Trophy as a very important tournament for many reasons. And I will be more than delighted if I can contribute to the team's success whenever I get the chance,” is the strong belief of Laxman who last played a Ranji game in 2009. For the record, he holds the Ranji all-time record of scoring the highest number of runs in a season – 1415 in 1999-2000 season.

Well, at a time many big names give the Ranji Trophy amiss, Laxman's gesture is widely appreciated by the HCA officials who look for two outright wins in the final two games to qualify for the Elite Group.

“There is no better news than this. His greatness is his willingness to play in the match against Goa even though we are in the Plate Group,” says HCA secretary D. S. Chalapathi.

Even Ojha's presence is bound to give the variety even as another left-arm spinner A. Lalith Mohan has emerged as the leading wicket-taker this season for Hyderabad.