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Maharashtra confident

Principal Correspondent

Bangalore: The pitch drew a lot of attention while the Karnataka and Maharashtra teams practised on the eve of their Ranji Trophy Elite Division Group `A' match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

The bald pitch with cracks is expected to aid spin and Maharashtra's foreign coach Darren Holder expressed his dismay and said: "The pitch is a disgrace."

Meanwhile Karnataka skipper Sujith Somasundar was milder in his remarks. "The pitch is dry and will take turn," Somasundar said.

Prior to the pitch causing heartburn in the visitors' dressing room, attention was riveted on whether Anil Kumble will play for Karnataka.

However, India's leading wicket-taker will not figure in the match. "Yes we did ask him but then he is just back from three back-to-back Test matches and he opted out," Somasundar said. And Kumble's absence was a welcome relief to the rival camp.

No superstarts

"Look they (Karnataka) don't have any superstars and we are not worried despite the pitch. Even if we have to chase a fourth innings target, I guess we will go for it. But yes it would have been different if Kumble were playing. He is a great international player," Holder said.

Karnataka after snatching two points from Railways at Delhi has gone downhill. It has just three points from four matches.

Meanwhile Maharashtra led by Hrishikesh Kanitkar has four points from four matches and all the points were bagged in its last match against Tamil Nadu, thanks to the victory at Nasik. The visitors' batting will hinge on Kanitkar and opener Dheeraj Jadhav, who struck a century against Tamil Nadu and is also buoyed by being at a venue from where he gained National recognition through a century against India seniors in a practise game last year.

The teams:

Karnataka: Sujith Somasundar (captain), Robin Uthappa, Barrington Rowland, V.S. Thilak Naidu (wicket-keeper), S. Shinde, Stuart Binny, Sunil Joshi, B. Akhil, D. Ganesh, R. Vinay Kumar, B. Chipli, N.C. Aiyappa, Udit Patel, C. Raghavendra and C. Raghu. Coach: Jeshwanth.

Maharashtra: H. Kanitkar (captain), S. Satbhai (wicket-keeper), Dheeraj Jadhav, K. Aphale, D. Mohan, Amit Patel, S. Bahutule, Munaf Patel, A. Sanklecha, S. Burkul, R. Jadhav, Y. Pawar and Y. Takwale. Coach: Darren Holder.

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