: Hyderabad on home turf is about as fearsome as a scarecrow in a paddy field. Visiting teams have only thrived, bolstered their standings and performances, thanks to the host’s ‘hospitable’ if not its ‘hardly hostile’ approach.

A convincing show by the home side seems but a distant memory.

On the eve of its Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ face-off against Saurashtra at the Rajiv Gandhi international stadium, Hyderabad coach Sunil Joshi rued the missed opportunities.

“The team doesn’t lack application but fails to learn from experience,” he said.

Perhaps going by Saurashtra overhauling Gujarat’s 600 for nine declared with an equally imposing 716 for three, Joshi called on the powers that be to ensure there were more sporting wickets.

Missing V.V.S.

On whether it would be another run-a-thon against Saurashtra, he expected the pitch to take turn from day two itself, depending of course on which strip would be chosen for the contest commencing from Saturday.

“We’ll definitely miss V.V.S. Laxman’s leadership and we hope he recovers from the back injury by the next game. Raviteja has been growing in his shadow and we expect a good game against Saurashtra,” said Joshi.

Abhinav Kumar will come into the squad in place of the legend.

Saurashtra coach Debu Mitra wouldn’t venture into any predictions.

“Much depends on the wicket and plans will be made only after the playing strip is decided on. Of the two possible surfaces, one looks good and the other underprepared,” said Mitra.

Sceptical

Sceptical of labels and reputations, he said the Indian team was loaded with batsmen but would be of little use until they clicked.

“Morale is high after Ravindra Jadeja’s triple century and Sagar Jogiyani’s 282, but anything can happen in cricket,” he said.

Nor would he place his bets on pitches either. “At Surat (where his boys notched up 700 +), pitch grass was about 4 to 5 mm high. But it didn’t take long to realise it was a dead wicket,” said Mitra.

From plumbing the depths of the Group ‘A’ table, Hyderabad will need to raise its game more than the necessary few notches if it shouldn’t cut a sorry figure.

Saurashtra seems ambitious, more intent on making a mark and the side with the stronger will to win.

The teams (from) :

Saurashtra : Jaydev Shah (capt.), Ravindra Jadeja, C.R. Pathak, B.M. Chauhan, S.D. Jogiyani (wk), S.P. Jackson, S.H. Kotak, J.D. Unadkat, S.M. Maniar, K.R. Makvana, S.K. Trivedi, Balkrishna Jadeja, Aarpit Vasavada, Nayan Doshi, Jayesh Odedra, Saurya Sanandiya.

Hyderabad : D.B. Raviteja (capt.), P. Akshath Reddy, G.H. Vihari, B. Sandeep, S.A. Quadri, Ibrahim Khaleel, P. Kaneshkk Naidu, Anwar Ahmed Khan, N. Arjun Yadav, M.A. Khader, A. Ashish Reddy, Vishal Sharma, A. Lalith Mohan, Akash Bhandari.

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