V.A. Jagadeesh will lead the Kerala team in the Ranji Trophy National cricket championship this season. Sachin Baby is his deputy.

The team, announced by the Kerala Cricket Association Secretary T.C. Mathew here on Thursday, was on expected lines. It was virtually the side which finished runner-up in the recent Buchi Babu tournament in Chennai and which toured South Africa a few weeks ago.

“We are approaching the Ranji Trophy with a new captain in Jagadeesh,” said Mathew. “Our preparations started three months ago and recently we played matches against three provincial sides in South Africa. We are coming close to moving to the Elite Group.”

Begins with away match

Kerala will open its campaign with an away match against Vidarbha in Nagpur, starting on November 3. It will play three of its four home games — against Services, Tripura and Andhra — at Kochi's Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and the last game against Himachal Pradesh in December at Thalassery.

The team, which has a new coach in Biju George, is just for the Ranji opener and includes Indian star S. Sreesanth.

“We are focusing on the Ranji Trophy and the under-22 section simultaneously. We may be making changes in the Ranji team for the second game depending on the performance of the under-22 boys,” said Mathew.

Jagadeesh optimistic

Jagadeesh, who will be making his debut as Ranji captain, was optimistic about the team's chances in the Ranji Trophy's Plate Group, the championship's second division.

“This year, there will be a change in our approach,” said the 28-year-old SBT star who hails from Kottarakara. “We could play more tournaments, more matches and we have more youngsters this time and the tour of South Africa has given us a lot of confidence. Our hard work will push the team forward.”

The preparatory camp for the team began at the Nehru Stadium here on Thursday and Sreesanth is expected to join the side on Friday.

The team: V.A. Jagadeesh (captain), Sachin Baby (vice-captain), S. Sreesanth, Sunil Thomas (wk), Robert Fernandez, Raiphi Vincent Gomez, Rohan Prem, Abhishek Hegde, K.J. Rakesh, K.R. Sreejith, P. Prasanth, Sanju Viswanath, M.E. Sanuth, Sony Cheruvathur, Prasanth Parameswaran.

Coach: Biju George. Manager: Jayesh George.

Kerala's Ranji schedule: November 3-6: v Vidarbha in Nagpur, Nov. 10-13: v Services in Kochi, Nov. 17–20: v Tripura in Kochi, Nov. 29-Dec. 2: v Andhra in Kochi, Dec. 6-9: v Himachal at Thalassery .

SBT triumphs

State Bank of Travancore defeated Hercules Kids CC by five wickets to win the title in the Capt. Jerry Premraj memorial all-Kerala T20 cricket tournament on Wednesday.

The scores: Final: Hercules Kids 128 in 19.3 overs (Nithin Jacob Philip 58, Kevin Oscar three for 14, C.P. Shahid three for 25) lost to SBT 132 for five in 17.1 overs (Raiphy Vincent Gomez 62). Semifinal: Muthoot Yamaha Masters 132 for five in 20 overs (Sambha Siva Sharma 59, Shajan Salim three for 25) lost to Hercules Kids 131 for six in 18.3 overs (Shajan Salim 31).

Special awards: Man-of-the-match: Raiphy Vincent Gomez (SBT), player of the tournament: Sambha Siva Sharma (Masters), best bowler: C.P. Shahid (SBT), promising youngster: Aby (Masters) .

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