The Ranji Trophy One-Day Tournament kicks off tomorrow with ten matches around the country. Teams divided into five zones - Central, East, North, South and West - will compete against each other and the zonal winners play in a round-robin format.
Sourav Ganguly, not included in India's one-day squad, has been named in Bengal's side for the Ranji tournament, the East Zone leg of which is to be held at Dhanbad from February 11 to 19. While Ganguly was named in the 14-member squad announced by the Cricket Association of Bengal, Deep Dasgupta, the wicketkeeper-batsman, was selected as captain. Bengal take on Tripura in their opener on February 11 before taking on Jharkhand, Orissa and Assam in the following matches.
The Punjab team underwent a coaching camp at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) complex in Chandigarh prior to their departure for Delhi, where they take on Haryana tomorrow. Himachal Pradesh - selected after a two-day trial at the PCA complex - will also appear for its first match against Services tomorrow, while Uttar Pradesh - Ranji Trophy Elit Group winners - take on Vidharbha on February 11 at Jaipur. The HP team, one marred by political controversies this past season, was announced by a selection commitee constituted by the BCCI on the directions of the Supreme Court.
Speaking to Mid-Day, a Mumbai-based tabloid, earlier this season, Amir Khan, the UP wicketkeeper, reflected on the tied final at the Wankhede Stadium during his maiden Ranji one-day season last year. UP, in pursuit of a small total in a heated clash against Tamil Nadu, were in shambles when their middle order collapsed. Khan, then 19, was at the crease with Rudra Pratap Singh when the match reached a critical point.
"RP promised he wouldn't play a bad shot. He did and got out. Praveen (Gupta) and I had to do the steering," he said. In the final over, with one run required from two deliveries, Khan drove to mid-off and set off for the run, but his dive could not beat Anirudh Srikkanth's throw. "What a match that was. We should have won. I was clearly in." Eager to return to the tournament and build on UP's successful season, Khan remained optimistic. "You always want to perform. I want to do my best again."
Intikhab Alam, the coach of Punjab, remained upbeat of his team's chances. "Ours is a result-oriented team and the fitness level of our players is tremendous. The main emphasis will be laid on fielding techniques and running between the wickets," he told the Hindustan Times. "The team is a blend of all kinds of ingredients necessary for match winning. The inclusion of VRV Singh is really an asset to the team. He is quite fit and is in constant touch with the Team India's physio John Gloster".