Ranji Trophy | Himachal, staring down the barrel, will aim for a win against Pondicherry

CRICKET | It will be an important game for Himachal to give itself a chance to stay in the Elites while Pondicherry will look to end the season, like it started — with a win

February 15, 2024 07:44 pm | Updated 07:45 pm IST - Puducherry

Himachal will once again look to Rishi Dhawan to do the bulk of the scoring.

Himachal will once again look to Rishi Dhawan to do the bulk of the scoring. | Photo Credit: File photo: K. PICHUMANI

Himachal Pradesh is on the brink of being relegated to Plate Group and is in the hunt for a big win over host Pondicherry in the final round of Elite Group ‘D’ match here at the Siechem Stadium on Friday.

The Ankit Kalsi-led side is yet to win a match this season and has lost four out of its six games so far.

Once again, Himachal, currently floundering at the bottom of the group with four points, will look in the direction of veteran all-rounder Rishi Dhawan to do the rescue operation. Rishi is the leading run-scorer with 389 runs and the second-highest wicket taker with 19 for his team this season.

While he has got a bit of support from Prashant Chopra and Ankit in the batting front, the collective attack from all ends is what Himachal has missed this season.

In Vaibhav Arora, the team has got a wicket-taking fast bowler, but the bowling threat decreases as soon as he finishes his spell.

Given how the Pondicherry’s match against J&K panned out, with spinners claiming a majority of wickets and the match getting over inside three days, Himachal will hope the tweakers get into the act.

For the host, though, home hasn’t been welcoming this season, having lost two games here. The recent loss against J&K would hurt more after the side failed to chase an 87-run target.

While the batting duties have mostly been handled by K.B. Arun Karthik, Paras Dogra, Akash Kargave, and Santosh Ratnaparkhe have given a helping hand.

In bowling, it has been a season to remember for Gaurav Yadav, who has picked 39 wickets, and is the second highest-wicket taker in the tournament. His partner Sagar Udeshi, who is next in line in the wicket-takers’ list, has bagged 34 with his left-arm spin.

It will be an important game for Himachal to give itself a chance to stay in the Elites while Pondicherry will look to end the season, like it started — with a win.

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