Principal Correspondent

PALAKKAD: Bowling at the nets at the Fort Maidan on a humid Saturday afternoon, Amit Mishra looked as focussed as he did when he caused all sorts of problems to the vaunted Australian batting line-up last month at Mohali and spun India to a famous Test victory on debut.

Mishra, the Haryana captain, may not have to bowl his leg-breaks against the likes of Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden and Michael Hussey here, but he said he was not going to take lightly the Kerala batsmen in the Ranji Trophy Plate Group ‘A’ match that begins here on Sunday.

“Every side in this competition is strong,” he said while speaking to The Hindu.

“This is my first match for my State in the Ranji Trophy this season and I am keen to contribute to the team, which did very well in the last match against Jharkhand.”

Mishra’s presence has added glamour to this contest. This is after all his first match after his fine show in the Test series against the Aussies.

An opportunity

Kerala captain Sony K. Cheruvathur said rather than being worried about the possible threats Mishra might pose to the Kerala batsmen, he would like to see it as an opportunity for them to do well against a current Indian Test bowler.

“If you could bat well against him in this match, your confidence will improve and you will be noticed,” he said.

He admitted his team wasn’t exactly sitting pretty after losing to Himachal Pradesh in the last match at Dharamsala by an innings and 56 runs inside three days.

“But now we are not thinking about the number of points we require for qualifying for the semifinals,” he said.

“We would like to take one game at a time and of course this is going to be a pretty tough match; Haryana and Himachal are the strongest teams in the Group and we are playing them back-to-back.”

While Kerala is looking for its first win in the competition, the Haryana coach, Amarjeet Kaypee, said his team would try to post its second straight win.

“We are in good form, having played excellent cricket to beat Jharkhand by an innings and 61 runs at Rohtak,” he said.

“With Amit returning to the lead side, the bowling has become even more balanced.”

The teams (from):

Kerala: Sony K. Cheruvathur (captain), Raiphy Vincent Gomez, Sreekumar Nair, V.A. Jagadeesh, Robert Fernandez, Rohan Prem, Vinan G. Nair, Tinu Yohannan, Prasanth Chandran, P. Prasanth, Sebastian Antony, K.J. Rakesh, M.E. Sanuth, Sambasiva Sharma and K. Anil Kumar. Coach: Vedam Hariharan.

Haryana: Amit Mishra (captain), Sunny Singh, Rahul Diwan, Nitin Saini, Sumit Sharma, Sachin Rana, Abir Lavasa, Dhruv Singh, Jitendar Billa, Sanjay Budwar, Gaurav Vashisht, Amandeep Soukan, Vishal Sahni, Pradeep Sahu and Sandeep Singh. Coach: Amarjeet Kaypee.

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