Maharashtra will be bolstered by the return of their regular skipper Kedar Jadhav when they face Vidarbha in a Ranji Trophy cricket fixture beginning at Eden Gardens.
Both the teams lie on the bottom of group B standings and are in search of their maiden win from four matches and Maharashtra will bank on their skipper who’s back after an impressive show in India’s 3-2 win over New Zealand in the recent ODI series.
“He’s a match-winner. We really missed him in the last two matches,” Maharashtra coach Shrikant Kalyani said on the match-eve.
A hard-hitting batsman, Jadhav has found new-found confidence in bowling, especially after his career-best 3/29 in Mohali ODI.
There will also be an emotional off-the-field battle between the two coaches – Kalyani and Vidarbha’s Paras Mhambrey – both have a strong Bengal connection.
A former Bengal cricketer, Kalyani will be back at the Eden as coach for the first time. Vidarbha dressing room on the other hand will have the expertise of Mhambrey, who had coached Bengal to Ranji finals.
Keeping in view the seaming-friendly conditions, Maharashtra also have boosted their pace department with a newcomer in Pradip Dadhe, who will join Nikit Dhumal.
But the key for Maharashtra would be to bat with consistency which has been missing since Swapnil Gugale and Ankit Bawne’s record 594 undefeated stand, the highest partnership in first-class cricket.
Gugale (351 not out) and Bawne (258 not out) helped Maharashtra pile 635/2 against Delhi but since then their batting is struggling for consistency.
Smarting from their defeat against group leaders Karnataka, skipper Faiz Fazal said they are confident of bouncing back.
“We had a bad game against Karnataka but overall our performance has been decent. We played well against Assam and Odisha but weather came in our way for an outright win,” the left-handed opening batsman said.