A Ranji semifinal sans big names

NEW DELHI, MARCH 17. The country's premier domestic cricket competition will resume on Friday when Railways and Hyderabad face off in the Ranji Trophy semifinal at the Karnail Singh Stadium here.

"A good pitch with true bounce," promised the Railways coach Vinod Sharma. "We don't have big names but we have players who know how to play like a team. That's my greatest asset," said Sharma. "I wish I had got some more time to prepare the pitch. We would have loved to see some grass on the surface," confessed Sharma, knowing well that the bowling, with an enviable variety, happens to be the team's strong point.

Hyderabad deserves its place in the knockout stage following some consistent performance under the guidance of V.V.S. Laxman, who will be sorely missed in this match. Like Railways, this southern challenger too believes in contributions through the ranks and there is no over-reliance on individual brilliance.

Gifted youngsters like Ambati Rayudu and Daniel Manohar may have fallen behind in the big league race but they can use this platform to justify the faith their state reposes in them. For N. P. Singh too the stage is ideal to reaffirm his bowling abilities even as the young Arjun Yadav leads in a testing period. In J. P. Yadav, the team has a one who believes in setting an example as a senior while Kulamani Parida has never been short of wickets to back his case. Left-arm spinner Murali Kartik is a shining example of having to keep proving himself.

The teams (from): Railways: Sanjay Bangar (captain), Amit Pagnis, T.P. Singh, J.P. Yadav, Raja Ali, Yere Goud, Shreyas Khanolkar, Sudhir Wankhede, Harvinder Singh, Murali Kartik, Kulamani Parida, Santosh Saxena, Siddharth Verma, Siddharth Joshi and Madan Yadav; coach: Vinod Sharma.

Hyderabad: Arjun Yadav (captain), Anirudh Singh, Kaushik Reddy, Ibrahim Khalil, Daniel Manohar, A. Rayudu, D. Vinay Kumar, N.P. Singh, P.I.S. Reddy, S. Vishnuvardhan, Abhinav Kumar, T. Suman, P.S. Niranjan, Amol Shinde, Pragyan Ojha and Anoop Pai; coach: Rajesh Yadav.

Umpires: Messrs Samir Bandekar and Suresh Shastri; Match Referee: Mr. S. Banerjee.

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