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Assam players strike form

Guwahati, Feb. 21: Assam’s qualification for the Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day cricket tournament knockouts has proved the potential of the state’s home-groomed players not only as matchwinners but also helped remove the inferior tag on them compared to their professional guest counterparts in the squad.

“We have the ability to win matches and tournaments and are not inferior to any one. They only thing we were missing so far was the psychological skill to apply ourselves, which we have developed to some extent, thanks to a 20-day conditioning camp at home before we came to participate in this tournament. All of us worked really hard in the camp and we are reaping the harvest now,” skipper Abu Nechim Ahmed said, apparently stung by the oft-repeated slur on the home players. “It is great that most of our teammates delivered in Calcutta and I hope all of us will continue to do so in the remaining matches of the tournament here as well as in Vizag (knockouts),” Ahmed told The Telegraph over phone from Calcutta this evening.

When Pune professional Dheeraj Jadhav and Syed Mohammad of Chennai were not among their usual big knocks, Gokul Sharma, Pallav Das, Pritam Das and Tarjinder Singh turned out to be the key players in Assam’s roller-coaster ride at the Eden and Jadavpur University ground during the tournament.

Assam have tallied an unbeatable 15 points from three matches so far and a victory or loss in the remaining match on Saturday against hosts Bengal, who are on eight points from equal number of matches, will be immaterial.

All-rounder Sharma tallied as many as 10 wickets, including four each against Tripura and Jharkhand, apart from scoring an unbeaten match-winning knock of 27 against Jharkhand today and 20 against Tripura earlier.

Similarly, Pallav Das tallied the highest 106 runs for the side, including a 62 against Odisha, where pacer Pritam Das took five for 30.

With zonal selector Syed Saba Karim on duty to select the zonal squad for the Deodhar Trophy tournament to be held here from March 10, the Assam Cricket Association has been informed that at least three to four players from the side have almost booked berths for themselves.

The performance of Sharma and Singh will also help them knock on the doors of IPL outfit Rajasthan Royals where they have been in the reckoning. After a recent trial, the duo were told to perform in the tournament to get the call.

Dubbing the performance of the players as encouraging, ACA secretary Bikash Baruah, however, felt that the batsmen would have to work on their temperament to play a longer innings to win matches in the Ranji Trophy.