March 8, 2001

Zuffri to lead Assam challenge in Ranji knockout

Staff Reporter

The Assam Cricket Association announced a 15-man squad to represent the state in their forthcoming Ranji Trophy pre-quarterfinal against six-time champions Karnataka at the Nehru Stadium in Guwahati from March 10-14. 25-year-old lefthander Zakaria Zuffri is the captain while fellow middle order batsman Rajesh Bora, 33, will serve as his deputy. Three uncapped youngsters Mrigen Talukdar, Bachan Singh and Arnold Konwar have been included in the team. They replace Nishanta Bordoloi and Palash Das who were in the squad during the zonal league.

Assam put in a creditable show in the East Zone league, finishing runners-up to Orissa with 19 points, and pushing traditional supremos Bengal to third place. In four games, they beat Bihar and Tripura by an innings, drew with Bengal, and lost to Orissa. Skipper Zuffri currently heads the run aggregate with 268 runs while opener Parag Kumar Das tops the averages at 51.8. Assam have a strong bowling line-up with left arm spinner Sukhbinder Singh who grabbed 20 wickets at 11.45 being the standout performer.

Another left arm spinner Sunil Subramaniam, formerly of Tamil Nadu, completed 250 wickets in the competition earlier this season and seamer Javed Zaman's efforts were rewarded with a place in the India A squad against the touring Australians at Nagpur last month. Assam are up against a strong Karnataka team that includes three former India players Sunil Joshi, Dodda Ganesh and Vijay Bharadwaj. Joshi is likely to lead the team in the absence of Venkatesh Prasad who has been selected in the Indian team for the second Test against Australia at Kolkata.

The team: Zakaria Zuffri (captain), Rajesh Bora (vice-captain), Gautam Dutta, Parag Das, Subhrajit Saikia, Subhodeep Ghosh, Vinayak Samant (wicket-keeper), Sunil Subramanium, Ganesh Kumar, Mrigen Talukdar, Sumit Das, Arnold Konwar, Sukhwinder Singh, Javed Zaman, Bachan Singh. Standbyes: Palash Das & Prantar Sarma. Coach: Kamal Das. Manager: Manoj Bhagwati.