|Jharkhand players during a training session
Calcutta: Having made it to the semi-finals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Jharkhand are not willing to be cowed down by the might of Karnataka when the two sides meet at the Jadavpur University Salt Lake Campus ground, on Friday. As coach Subroto Banerjee put it, they are taking one match at a time and are not under pressure.
The most positive aspect of Jharkhand’s success in the tournament so far has been the collective effort put in by the team and the ability of the players to rise to the occasion.
If Ishank Jaggi and Tiwary had been successful with the bat in the zonal stage, Kumar Deobrat and Keshav Kumar staged a superb fight back with the bat in the quarter final against Services.
It was then left to pacer Rahul Shukla, who took five wickets, to ensure a semi-final berth. Services were never really in the chase as Shukla made it tough for their top and middle-order.
The efforts of the boys really impressed Banerjee. “We have always tried to keep things simple. The message to the guys is not to complicate things and stick to the basics.
“In the Services match, the guys showed a lot of character. What really impressed me was their work ethic. They have the right approach to their game and they always play with a positive mindset. That is really praiseworthy,” Banerjee told The Telegraph.
“With our bowling and fielding not up to the mark, we needed to address those issues.
“The way the guys performed in the quarter final, you would see that our performance has definitely improved. So I’m really optimistic about our chances in the semi-finals,” Banerjee said.
Jharkhand may be short on experience as compared to Karnataka, but the youngsters are keen to make it up with their zeal and dedication.
“Karnataka are the side to beat this season. They have a really formidable batting line-up and their bowling also looks quite strong. But we are not wary of them.
“Since we have played against them in the Ranji Trophy, we know a thing or two about them. We have our plans in place and will try to exploit their weaknesses. If we can execute the plans properly, there is no reason why we cannot reach the final,” said Banerjee. “We are not at all under any pressure. There will be butterflies in the stomach since we are playing the semi-final. But that’s good… It will keep the players on the edge. They will be on their toes and will give their best efforts.”
The Ranji Trophy and Irani Cup champions, on the other hand, will no doubt want to add another feather in their crown this season.
Centuries from Robin Uthappa and Karun Nair have confirmed that Karnataka’s batting is in fine shape though the bowling, barring Ranganath Vinay Kumar, needs improvement.
“We have been doing well as a team. After our Ranji triumph, all the focus is now on winning the Vijay Hazare. But we want to go match by match… We’re not looking too far ahead. We’ll cross the bridge when we come to it,” said Vinay Kumar.
Karnataka are not underestimating Jharkhand. “In limited-overs cricket, you can’t underestimate a side. We’re not thinking too much of the opposition, but our focus is on our strength. If we play to our potential, we can beat any side,” said the pacer.
Both teams seemed wary of the wicket. “It’s challenging for the batsmen…When we go abroad these kind of wickets will definitely help the batsmen perform better...
“If we play 10 games, we get these kind of wickets in only one or two games. I don’t think there would be any problem for the spinners,” felt Vinay Kumar.
“We have very good players. In the last match after losing four early wickets the big partnership came between Robin and Nair. Rarely you see that kind of performance.
“In bowling also, Mithun, (HS) Sharath and myself make a formidable line-up. Even we have a good bench strength,” he explained.