Stung by poor form and injuries to some players, Punjab took some desperate steps to set its house in order. Three changes from the team that lost by an innings to Saurashtra in the last match sees Punjab treat this encounter against Railways on a different note.
“We have to win,” said coach Vikram Rathour. Punjab must win for its next three matches are away fixtures and it lies at fifth slot in the eight-team group, one place above Railways.
Sarul Kanwar, Sandeep Sharma and skipper Harbhajan Singh will miss this match. Kanwar (from the 11) and Sharma have been dropped to accommodate Ravi Inder Singh and Harmeet Bansal. Harbhajan is nursing a shin injury and has been advised rest for ten days. He paves the way for Taruwar Kohli, a bowler all-rounder. “We hope to get Harbhajan's services for the next three matches,” said Rathour.
Punjab has once again opted for a green top. “We have to do what suits us,” remarked the Punjab coach.
The performance in the last match was am aberration, he maintained. “We played poor cricket. We let them score (542) on a helpful pitch and then did not bat well. They certainly bowled better than us. But we are sticking to a green pitch,” added Rathour.
Railways skipper Sanjay Bangar was optimistic. The team started on a disastrous note, losing its first two matches against Mumbai and Karnataka, but did remarkably well by overhauling Rajasthan's 521 to collect three points in the last contest at the Karnail Singh Stadium.
“We were always playing catch up in the first two matches but we need to get into a good position here early,” observed Bangar.Railways has made a change from the last match with Prashant Awasthi replacing Karan Sharma.
The teams (from): Punjab: Uday Kaul (Captain), Ravi Inder Singh, Manan Vohra, Karan Goel, Mayank Sidana, Mandeep Singh, Taruwar Kohli, M. S. Gony, Barinder Singh, Harmeet Bansal, Amitoze Singh, Vishwas Bhalla, Rajwinder Singh, Sarul Kanwar and Bipul Sharma.
Railways: Sanjay Bangar (capt.), Shivakant Shukla, Shreyas Khanolkar, V. Cheluvaraj, Nitin Bille, Mahesh Rawat (wk), Prashant Awasthi, J. P. Yadav, Ashish Yadav, Anureet Singh, Nilesh Chauhan, Yere Goud and Arlen Konwar .