Best of the rest set for Ranji knock-outs

Far from the spotlight in New Zealand — where MS Dhoni’s team have stumbled in two Twenty20 matches — an entirely different battle....

Written by Nadim Siraj | Agartala | Published:February 28, 2009 2:34 am

Far from the spotlight in New Zealand — where MS Dhoni’s team have stumbled in two Twenty20 matches — an entirely different battle is set to be fought here in the capital of Tripura. Starting Saturday,the ‘rest’ of India will lock horns with each other in the all-important knock-out round of the Vijay Hazare Trophy for the Ranji one-dayers,with plenty at stake in the 12-day championship that will be played over two venues in Agartala.

A close look at the players vying for survival is a who’s who of India’s domestic talent,and Virat Kohli,S Badrinath,Mohammad Kaif,Shikhar Dhawan,Ajinkya Rahane,Yo Mahesh and Manoj Tiwary — to name just a few — will have plenty to play for as they try to make the most of the stage to draw the selectors’ attention.

The focus,to start with,is on Delhi and Tamil Nadu,who will play their pre-quarterfinal matches on Saturday. Led by Aakash Chopra,the Delhi outfit will take on unfancied Railways,while Tamil Nadu will be up against veteran Debasish Mohanty’s Orissa.

Anticipating stiff competition from Mumbai and dark horses Uttar Pradesh,Delhi are looking to start their campaign on a winning note and coach Vijay Dahiya said they were determined to brush aside their poor Ranji Trophy performance this season. “It’s good that we have been pooled in a way that we get to play an extra match,” Dahiya said,as the Delhi-Railways and TN-Orissa matches are the only two pre-quarters in the tournament.

Though Tamil Nadu have some domestic heavyweights,they will bank on the Badrinath-S Vidyut duo to make up for some key absentees.

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