Jharkhand eye semifinal spot



Jharkhand, with Mahendra Singh Dhoni in their ranks, have evinced considerable interest in Vijay Hazare one-dayers.

The former India captain has been an integral part of his state team in his effort to tune himself up for the upcoming international events, including the Champions Trophy. He would be the focal point of the quarterfinal contest against Group A toppers Vidarbha at the Palam Ground on Wednesday.

Whether it is Dhoni’s interaction with his state team, or his train travel with them in second class AC, his moves all have been followed closely. Considered to be in the twilight of his career, the enigmatic cricketer is keeping himself match-fit by the time the limited over events begin for India on international calendar. The wicket-keeper-batsman has captained Jharkhand in all the six matches, despite stepping down from the Indian captaincy in the limited over formats.

In the five innings he has played in the tournament, Dhoni has accumulated 242 runs at 60.50 average at a strike rate of 98.99, including 19 boundaries and 10 sixes. His 129 against Chhattisgarh at Eden Gardens stands out. His form would be crucial for Jharkhand who had finished second, with four wins and two defeats in Group D, behind Karnataka.

Dhoni has a clutch of talented youngsters like Ishan Kishan, Saurabh Tiwary and Ishank Jaggi under him. The conditions tend to be spinner-friendly here and Jharkhand would be expecting its best bowler in the tournament, left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (14 wickets) to make the most of it. Among seamers, Rahul Shukla (12) and Varun Aaron (11) have been effective.

Vidarbha, captained by Faiz Fazal, has registered five wins in six matches to assert their supremacy in Group A. Jitesh Sharma and Ganesh Satish turned the spotlight on them by scoring 291 and 259 runs from six matches.

In the other quarterfinal on Wednesday, Bengal take on Mahrashtra at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium. The semifinals would take place on Thursday and Friday, with the final on Sunday.
DH News Service

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