CHENNAI: In a clash of opponents familiar with each other in every possible way, Gujarat face Saurashtra in a Ranji Trophy semifinal in Rajkot from Saturday. Defeated finalists last season, Saurashtra share a lot of similarities with the winners of the 2016-17 season. Part of the same state, they know each other inside out. Gujarat captain Parthiv Patel is confident his team will do well. It stems from the fact that his side has been consistent. “Credit to the boys for the good show so far. We have a team that has the right blend of experience and youth in its ranks. We will give our best to make it to the final,’’ Parthiv told this daily on Friday.
For several years, Gujarat depended on the Test discard to bail the team out of tricky situations. That is not the case anymore as they have found contributions from different players this season. Bhargav Merai, Samit Gohel, Priyank Panchal, Manpreet Juneja have also scored in excess of 400 runs. This gives them an edge over their rivals. After an indifferent start, Parthiv has peaked at the right time, scoring a ton against Goa in the quarterfinals. “I made some runs against Vidarbha and Andhra. Good to get the hundred against Goa. We have talented players who can deliver. Our lower-order can bat. We have depth in our ranks and this should come in handy against Saurashtra,’’ Parthiv explained.
Saurashtra are a quality side too. In the final thrice since the 2012-13 season, they are still looking for their first title. Even without Cheteshwar Pujara, they are a capable lot. With captain Jaydev Unadkat leading from the front with the ball, batting mainstay Sheldon Jackson said they will go all out.“We have a quality side. We have learnt over the years to play without Pujara, who is often on national duty. Our strength is we play as a unit and not as individuals. Parthiv is in good form, but we do not prepare with plans for just one or two players. We have plans for the entire team. Our task will be to execute our plans and play to potential,’’ said Jackson.
Pathiv, on the other hand, is banking on the collective might of his side. “I don’t want to single out one bowler but we have quality pacers and spinners. Plus, we have a few budding youngsters. We have a good unit and are looking forward to deliver.”
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