Goa host Services; eye first win
PANAJI: Having conceded three defeats in the last four matches played so far, Goa will have their task cut out when they host Services in Elite, Group C, Ranji Trophy match at GCA Academy ground in Porvorim from today.
With three losses and a draw, Goa are languishing at the bottom of the Group C table with only three points, and the humiliating 7-wicket defeat at home in the last game against Jharkhand should serve them as the alarming bell.
The defeat against Jharkhand should still hurt them as they literally snatched it from the jaws of a possible draw. After putting up a decent 364 in the first innings, Goa restricted Jharkhand to 390, conceding only 26 runs lead. But the dismal performance of their batsmen in the second innings, that folded for just 131 runs in less than two sessions on the fourth and final day, saw them taste a bitter seven-wicket defeat.
Poor batting has been the main reason behind Goa’s dismal show in this Ranji Trophy season so far. Barring the big scores of 468 for 9 declared in drawn game against Jammu & Kashmir and 364 in the last game against Jharkhand, the Goa batsmen have not been able to cross 200-run mark in the five innings that they got to bat. In the first game against Uttar Pradesh, they scored 152 and 165 in either innings; posted a paltry 177 and 141 in 1st and 2nd innings against Haryana, and against Jharkhand their second innings was folded for a mere 131.
Snehal Kauthankar, Amit Verma and Sumiran Amonkar are the only bright spots in the Goan batting line-up, while captain Sagun Kamat, from whom a lot was expected, is yet to give justice to his true talent and ability. While Snehal and Amit scored centuries against J&K and Jharkhand respectively, Sumiran played some good knocks of 73 and 95 against the visiting teams.
Sagun has two fifties against his name but the captain needs to be consistent with his scoring and need to convert the fifties into big knocks to motivate his fellow teammates.
A couple of seasons ago, Sagun had created history by becoming the first Goan to score a triple century. It’s worth mentioning here is that his distinct feat came against none other than Team Services against whom he will lead his troupe in a four-day battle starting from today.
The Goan camp will be hoping that their captain takes a leaf out of his past historical innings and come up with another swashbuckling knock to guide the team to a big total.
On the bowling front too, Goa leave a lot to be desired. Barring K Das’s fiery spells in both the innings against Haryana and some fine seam bowling from V Prabhudesai against Jharkhand in the last match, no other Goan bowler has set the scene on fire. As for spinners, Darshan Misal and Amulya Pandrekar have impressed but in patches. The duo along with other spinners is expected to put up a thorough performance to help the team go in the right direction to claim their first win.
Meanwhile, Goa have named legendary cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin’s son Asaduddin Mohammad in the 15-man squad along with another outstation player Maniksab Sirur, an allrounder from neighbouring state Karnataka. It will be interesting to see if they find a place in the playing eleven, particularly Asaduddin as there was a lot of furore created in the Goan cricketing arena over his selection.
If at all Asaduddin gets a look in, there will be tremendous pressure on him to perform as his failure can lead to further criticism on his selection.
It will be however not easy for the Goan side to combat the might of Services, who are placed 7th on the Group C table with 8 points. Services have so far fared quite well in the ongoing Ranji season. They beat Jammu and Kashmir for their only win in the season, while having drawn two and losing one in the total four matches.
All in all, the Goa team led by veteran Sagun Kamat will have to put their best foot forward against Services if they are to claim their first win in this Ranji Trophy season.