Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 8
It is a momentous occasion for the Chandigarh team, making its debut in the Ranji Trophy as the 38th team this year.
Chandigarh will face Arunachal Pradesh in their first tie of the season at the Sector 16 here. City players walking into the field to represent the Union Territory in the premier national tournament, now into its 86th year, will mark the realisation of their aspirations to showcase their talent on a national platform. It could also be a huge boost for the game in this urban pocket as it often gets relegated to the shadows of a big team like Punjab or seeks refuge in neighbouring Haryana.
One of the biggest positives of the development is that Chandigarh’s residents will get an opportunity to watch First-Class matches right in the heart of the city. The location of the Sector 16 Stadium — bang in the middle of the city, with a large base of college and school youngsters around, plus a plethora of government offices around — has the potential to turn around the trend of dismal attendance in domestic matches in India.
As is the case with any newly-formed team, the Chandigarh squad is a mishmash of players. Several of the players have represented Punjab, and there are a couple of newcomers struggling to gain a foothold in domestic cricket. Also vying for a berth in the playing XI are wannabes who have no creditable performances in the recent past. There is no dearth of players in the team who are well past their prime.
The only notable performer of the team in its debut season in BCCI’s domestic tournament is Mohammed Arslan Khan, who has hit five centuries and two half-centuries in BCCI’s U-23 one-day tournament. Khan’s solid starts helped the team make it to the semis in their maiden attempt before Chandigarh suffered a 150-run defeat against West Bengal at Dehradun and bowed out of the tournament.
The 20-year-old Khan, whose father has a tailoring shop in Sector 17, has represented Himachal Pradesh at the junior level, but the recognition of Chandigarh by BCCI has given him an opportunity to represent the UT.
Talking about the team’s prospects, coach VRV Singh said: “It is a balanced unit as the team is a blend of experienced players and newcomers. Playing at the home ground gives us an upper hand.”
“The last time we met Arunachal Pradesh, in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy, we won convincingly. We are confident of delivering this time also,” he added.
Arunachal Pradesh, making their second appearance in the Ranji Trophy tournament, will start as the underdogs in the season-opener.
Anirudh Kanwar, Ankit Kaushik, Arpit Singh, Barinder Singh Sran, Bipul Sharma - Vice Captain, Gurinder Singh, Jaskarandeep Singh Buttar, Jaskaranvir Singh Sohi, Kunal Mahajan, Manan Vohra (Captain), Mohd. Arslan Khan, Raman Bishnoi, Shivam Bhambri, Shreshth Nirmohi and Uday Kaul
- 8 of the 15 players have represented Punjab — Arpit Pannu, Bipul Sharma, Raman Bishnoi, Gurinder Singh, Jaskaran Singh, Uday Kaul, Barinder Sran, Manan Vohra
- 3 of the players have represented Himachal Pradesh — Ankit Kaushik, Shresth Nirmohi, Arslan Khan
- Oldest player: Bipul Sharma at 36 years
- Youngest player: Arslan Khan at 20 years
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