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Jharkhand bank on team game

Calcutta: Team effort has been the hallmark of Jharkhand’s success in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season. They will be looking to do just that and maintain their momentum when they take on Services in the quarter final on Wednesday.

Jharkhand topped the East Zone leg with 14 points from four matches in Ranchi. They won three of their matches while another was abandoned because of rain.

Under a new coach in Subroto Banerjee, the young side has shown the zeal to rise to the occasion whenever the situation demanded. It showed in their commanding victory over Bengal in the zonal leg.

With Ishank Jaggi in superb form (245 runs at an average of 81.66), and captain Saurabh Tiwary and Virat Singh providing good support, their bowlers didn’t have to exert themselves much. Banerjee, though, is aware that it will be different in the knockout phase.

“This is a young side… So when I took charge at the start of the season, I thought I needed to groom them a lot. But they surprised me. They have shown a lot of maturity and I’m happy with their efforts,” coach Banerjee said on Tuesday.

“One good thing, which I have noticed about the side, is that they never get bogged down. Even when the opponent bowlers are bowling brilliantly and boundaries are hard to come by, the batsmen keep the scoreboard ticking by rotating the strike,” said the former India pacer.

Services, on the other hand, edged past Vidarbha by the narrowest of margins in the pre-quarter finals, reaching the target of 284 off the last ball of the match with an unconquered last wicket pair, at the Jadavpur University Salt Lake campus ground, on Monday.

Services, no doubt, will have the advantage of having had a feel of the conditions, but Banerjee wasn’t reading much into it.

The bowling, the Jharkhand coach feels, needs improvement, but he is pinning hopes on the experienced left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and medium pacer Rahul Shukla. To strengthen Jharkhand’s bowling attack, India pacer Varun Aaron may also play the match. The 24-year old pacer practised with the team on Tuesday.

“The bowlers have shown great heart even when the opponent batsmen are thrashing them all over the park. They never lose their confidence. These things have really impressed me,” said Banerjee.