Nagpur : The Ranji Trophy semi-final tie between Gujarat and first-timers Jharkhand may not be a battle between two traditional cricket powerhouses but it promises to be an even contest at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Ground starting here on Sunday.

While Gujarat can boast of this Ranji season’s highest run-getter in opening batsman Priyank Panchal (1120 runs), Jharkhand, on the other hand, have their leading wicket-taker in left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem (50 wickets) apart from India’s limited over skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s guidance.

Dhoni, who does not play the longest version of the game anymore, however, still trains and practises with his state side when he is out of national duty. The wicketkeeper-batsman is also believed to be by his side during the first few days of the Ranji semi-final.

Going into Sunday’s encounter, Jharkhand’s batting will revolve around the likes of young left-hander Ishan Kishan, who leads the chart for his team with 719 runs.

Giving him support will be senior pro Saurabh Tiwary, Ishank Jaggi, Anand Singh and promising duo of Virat Singh and Kaushal Singh.

After finishing the league stage atop Group B, Jharkhand eventually eased past Haryana to book a place in the semi-final. Considering the number of outright wins earned by Jharkhand, five in comparison to two by Gujarat, the Saurabh Tiwary-led side have an edge on paper.

Despite the presence of Nadeem, their bowling department has been weakened with the absence of Ashish Kumar, who has 31 wickets in the tournament. He however, won’t be available after fracturing his back in the clash against Haryana.

On the other hand, apart from Priyank’s heroics with the willow, Gujarat’s batting will bank on Samit Gohel, who has 822 runs to his name while Manprit Juneja has 525 runs in his account.

In the middle order, skipper Parthiv Patel and Bhargav Merai have also contributed heavily which makes them a formidable unit.

The bowling department will be spearheaded by India medium pacer Jasprit Bumrah, who was recently included in Cricket Australia’s ODI Team of the Year.–IANS

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