HYDERABAD: When pacer Mohammed Siraj bowled Chhattisgarh lower-order batsman Pankaj Rao on Wednesday, the relief on Hyderabad players’ faces was palpable, for they had not just recorded a big victory (84 runs), but had also walked into the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Led by former India player Ambati Rayudu (in the last three games), their side recorded five victories in six matches to top Group D.
This comes after a string of disappointing outings in the Ranji Trophy and the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The former had proved to be unlucky for them as their first two home encounters could not be played due to a wet outfield at the Gymkhana Grounds (the same place they qualified for the quarters).
With just two wins in six matches, they bowed out in the group stage. Fortune seemed to have favoured them at the start of the T20s, as they snatched wins in their first two games. Then they lost the last three to make an exit here as well.
The team had teed off their domestic season in a remarkable manner, winning both the build-up tournaments — Moin-ud-Dowlah Trophy and Buchi Babu Trophy — with aplomb. However, they could not carry that momentum forward into the following tournaments.
What the team lacked in fortunes, they made up for in terms of confidence. Right before the one-dayers started, coach J Arunkumar had told that his players had not stopped believing in themselves, and were confident of a good showing.
The tremendous performance by the team can be attributed to opening batsmen and bowlers. While Siraj (who has claimed two fifers) has taken 18 wickets to top the charts, opening batsmen Akshath Reddy (331 runs) and K Rohit Rayudu (329 runs) consistently gave the side solid starts. Rohit was playing his debut List A series. Tweakers Mehdi Hasan and Akash Bhandari netted eight wickets each. Bhandari also showed his willow prowess by hitting a total of 160 runs.
Speaking to Express after the match, Rayudu said that the team was never under pressure. “We knew that we are in good form. It is just that luck was not favouring us. We have been performing for the last six months (since the start of Moin-ud-Dowlah). Now we have the results to prove that.”
Asked what the plans for the knockout stage was, Rayudu gave a reply that summed up the confidence of the team. “We will keep it simple.”
Group D: Hyderabad 280/8 in 50 ovs (Sandeep 79; Pankaj 3/52) bt Chhattisgarh 196 in 44.3 ovs (Khare 71; Siraj 5/37).
Group C: Andhra 344/5 in 50 ovs (Bharat 105, Vihari 169, Bhui 53) bt Mumbai 315/9 in 50 ovs (Lad 118; Raman 3/55). Team Rajasthan 141 in 38.2 ovs (Sai Kishore 5/26) lost to Tamil Nadu 143/3 in 23.5 ovs (Aparajith 55 n.o).