Kerala hopes to bounce back from its unexpected defeat against Goa when it takes on Services in a fifth-round Ranji Trophy match at the KCA-St.Xavier’s College ground on Tuesday.
The defeat against Goa exposed Kerala’s frailties. In conditions tailor-made for the host, it was the opposition which called the shots. The side was too supine and skipper Sijomon Joseph on his captaincy debut looked bereft of ideas.
The Kerala batters — barring Rohan Prem and Sachin Baby — have not been consistent. The return of Vatsal Govind, who has recovered from his illness, will shore up the batting. However, Rohan Kunnammel is running a high fever and is unlikely to play against Services.
‘Need to bowl well’
Kerala’s overdependence on Jalaj Saxena backfired against Goa whose batters targetted and hit him out of the attack. Backup spinners Sijomon and Vaisakh failed to sustain the pressure. Kerala coach Tinu Yohannan admitted that his side fell short of expectations against Goa but said he has faith in the team to deliver against Services.
“We need to address the issues in batting and bowling. I have spoken to the boys about it. This is a true wicket and we need to bowl well as a unit. We are not taking Services lightly. We have to believe in our process and not worry about the opposition,’‘ he said.
Services coach Rajesh Tiwari said his side was buoyant after registering the first win in the tournament but said boys were finding it difficult to adjust to the hot climate here after having played all the matches in the cooler climes in Delhi. He said the wins against Kerala in white-ball cricket recently will put his side in good stead. “We didn’t have the best of the starts to our campaign but now we have settled down. Kerala is a good side but we have won very recently in Syed Mustaq Ali knockouts so they must be wary of us,’‘ he said.