UP aim high after flying start
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After prolonged nets, a draining fielding session, Maharashtra had a long team meeting before they finally left the venue. It was easy to guess that the local team's hectic planning and training was because of their rival Uttar Pradesh's highly impressive opening against the star-studded Delhi earlier in the week.
But Maharashtra captain Rohit Motwani insists that sweat beads on his young team had nothing to do with the nervousness of facing a giant-killing unit. "All the guys are fit and are really pumped up for the game against UP. The excitement and the enthusiasm was on display at the practice session," he said.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh captain Suresh Raina said that there was no room for complacency. "There are no easy days in the Ranji Trophy. We are not taking any team lightly. Maharashtra are a good team and have the potential to hurt us if we let our guard down," said the skipper. "We started off really well against Delhi and the team composition looks good. All the guys are settled in their roles and we are confident that we will be taking to the field with the same intensity."
Both captains seemed to be happy with the pitch. "The track has a bit of grass. It will be a sporting wicket," said Motwani. Raina said that the last time he was at the Subroto Roy Sahara stadium during the IPL, the bounce was a problem. "From what I have seen of the wicket, it looks pretty decent and has a bit of grass. The toss will be crucial but we need to make the most of the conditions," he said.
Raina said that Piyush Chawla who had sustained a thumb injury during the World T20 had regained his fitness. "Piyush bowled for 45 minutes in the nets and he looked fit. If he passes the fitness he will definitely play," said Raina. Mohammed Kaif who was hit on the finger by an Ishant Sharma delivery in Uttar Pradesh's previous match is also fit and is expected to feature in UP's middle order. Sudeep Tyagi will be replacing Praveen Kumar who will miss the game due to injury.