Pankaj Rao first from State to play Duleep Trophy

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 04 Sep 2017 10:28:54

Sports Reporter,


The right-arm medium pace bowler has been selected in India Blue team that will be led by experience campaigner Suresh Raina

With 56 wickets in three formats of the game in last domestic season, Rao emerged as highest wicket-taker.

Pankaj Rao, right-arm medium pace bowler and right-hand batsman, has become the first cricketer of Chhattisgarh to be selected for Duleep Trophy to be organised from September 7 to 29. Rao has been picked by India Blue team led by Suresh Raina. Ishant Sharma, Manoj Tiwary and Jaydev Unadkat are the other prominent cricketers who are in the team. Rao has also become the first cricketer of Chhattisgarh to play in the coveted tournament while representing the state in Ranji tournament and he is now one step away from being selected in India team provided he manages to impress the selectors through his performance in Duleep Trophy.

It needs to be mentioned, Rao was selected for Deodhar Trophy in March this year and he had picked 15 wickets from six matches with an impressive average. Rao ended up with sixth position in the list of top performers as bowler.

Talking to The Hitavada, Rao said that his performance in the last season remains the key to his selection in Duleep Trophy. “I had taken 56 wickets in three formats of the domestic cricket, including 37 wickets from 8 Ranji trophy matches, in the cricket calendar 2016-17. I was on top as far as number of wickets in all the three formats – T20, One Day and Ranji are concerned while I managed to secure eighth position in Ranji Trophy,” said the cricketer who is being closely observed by the BCCI selectors.

Known for his accuracy in terms of line and length in the bowling, Rao said that he has been undergoing rigorous training with the Chhattisgarh Ranji probable team at SVNS Stadium and it will help him a lot in Duleep Trophy. Chhattisgarh Ranji team coach Mukund Parmar has helped these days a lot. “Similarly, Mohd Kaif remains instrumental in boosting my moral since he took over the charge of the team as captain,” said Rao.

When asked about ‘lady luck’, Rao said, “Definitely, lady luck has smiled on me. I got selected for India A in Deodhar Trophy immediately after my marriage was fixed with Hyderabad girl Anusha and now for Duleep Trophy after our marriage.” Rao also thanked CSCS president Baldeo Singh Bhatia, secretary Rajesh Dave and treasurer Vijay Shah for their support and cooperation. Facilities being provided by CSCS to its cric eters are second to none, said Rao. “I am also grateful to my coaches in Bhilai. I am here because of them only,” concluded Rao.

Speaking further, Rao, who is posted at AG Office in Raipur, said that his performance in Duleep Trophy will be closely watched by the selectors. This tournament decides fate of players whether they are eligible national team. “Recently I came across BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad who told me that that I am under observation. My performance in Duleep Trophy may pave the way for me to move ahead,” concluded Rao.