Maharashtra to take on table-toppers Orissa in Sambalpur today

Table-toppers Orissa, on a high after earning two outright victories in a week, will take on Maharashtra in Sambalpur on Saturday. Orissa which accounted for Ranji powerhouse Karnataka in a famous win at the Chinnaswamy stadium on Tuesday, will be looking for another positive result against an unconvincing Maharashtra side. An outright result against Maharashtra might just seal qualification into the quarterfinals for the Natraj Behera led side.

Maharashtra, which earned three points in their last game against Vidarbha by taking the first innings lead would have hoped for an outright result against Orissa before the season commenced. Maharashtra captain Rohit Motwani said though Orissa had been identified as an opponent against whom six points could be a possibility, recent events had put a dampener on those hopes. "They have played two great games and winning two games, outright, is a good achievement. The confidence in the Orissa camp is high but we (Maharashtra) are up for the fight," the skipper said.

Motwani said that the wicket was a sporting track with some live grass on it to encourage the fast bowlers. "It looks like a good wicket. There will be good carry for the fast bowlers and the ball will seam around in the morning. However, the true bounce will also help the batsmen get value for their shots," he said. Motwani also said that the toss would be crucial and his instinct was to bat first on the wicket at Sambalpur.

Maharashtra have recalled fast bowler Sachin Chaudhary, leg-spinner Deepak Shilamkar and batsman, Ajinkya Joshi. However, Motwani said that he was unlikely to change the composition of the side from the one that played against Vidarbha. The Orissa seamers have been potent on tracks offering pace and movement and will be a handful on a helpful Sambalpur wicket. "Our batsmen are prepared to face the seaming ball and also spells of accurate bowling. The middle order's lack of runs have been a cause of concern but I am confident that my batters require just one good knock to get back into form." Motwani said.

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