New Delhi: The fourth round of the 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season gets underway across the country on Saturday, with eight teams having posted outrights wins so far. With several others having moved up the points table with draws in round three, the middle area is getting packed and that puts pressure on the lower-rung teams.
Here's a look at the Group B matches starting November 24.
Karnataka v Odisha at Bangalore: Karnataka open their home campaign after three away matches, in search of their first outright win to move ahead on the Group B points table. With five points from three outings, Karnataka will hope for maximum points at the Chinnaswamy Stadium when they face Odisha.
Karnataka's winless run has been down to a batting lineup that has collectively failed to click, but that could change after three weeks on the road when return to familiar conditions. They averted defeat against Uttar Pradesh at Meerut where the lower order helped them battle to 274 for 9 in pursuit of a target of 446. Before that, they claimed first-innings points against Tamil Nadu in splendid manner after conceding the lead to Baroda in round one. With four games at home lined up, Karnataka could be on the verge of getting a streak together.
Odisha will be buoyant after taking six points from an outright victory over Haryana in their previous game, their first such in since 2008. After sharing points with Tamil Nadu following a wash-out and losing outright to Delhi, Natraj Behera's team was spurred to victory by seamer Basanta Mohanty's nine wickets, but like Karnataka the batting remains chalky. Odisha lost six wickets chasing a target of 148 in Lahli, but as the captain and coach have admitted, the win could be the catalyst for an upswing in form and fortune.
Haryana v Baroda at Lahli: Desperate to get on board the points table with two losses in a row, the Amit Mishra-led Haryana will face their toughest opponents so far in Baroda.
Last year’s semi-finalists have been poor this season because of their batting; in particular, two first-day capitulations of 66 and 55 against Odhisha and Vidarbha. Teams do not go in to win many games from there, and Haryana will have to get a big total on the board if they aspire to avert a hat-trick of losses.
Baroda, still without Irfan Pathan and sweating on the fitness of Yusuf, go into this match after a stalemate in Delhi. Having put up 561 in their first innings which spanned two days and half a session, Baroda failed to take the first-innings lead. How their depleted bowling fairs against Haryana remains to be seen, but this could be change that Mishra and Co. are looking for.
Vidarbha v Maharashtra at Nagpur: With a six-point lead on table over Maharashtra, Vibarbha will look to extend that advantage when the two teams meet on Saturday. Vidarbha’s eight-wicket win over Haryana in round one was followed by a draw against Baroda, and they did not feature in the last round. Against Baroda, the first-innings lead was conceded due to the bowler’s lack of penetration but the real concern was a total of 264 which saw seven batsmen register single-digit scores.
Maharashtra have batsmen in form, having racked up a mammoth total in their season opener, and they will hope to bounce back after a big defeat to Tamil Nadu. Stuck on one point after two matches, they must out-bat Vidarbha.