This time, Punjab can win the Ranji Trophy: Mandeep Singh

MOHALI: Most Punjab players were not even born when Punjab last won Ranji Trophy in 1992-93. Packed with potential, swagger, and match winners, Punjab hasn't reached knockout stage of the Ranji Trophy for the last three seasons. But skipper Mandeep Singh He says that this is a very exciting team, full of potential and that they can win the trophy.

Talking with TOI in IS Bindra PCA Stadium in Mohali, Mandeep said was confident about the team's prospects this season. "This is a very young team, inexperienced in comparison to rivals but is also very exciting and the best Punjab squad I have been part of. We have all bases covered this time, with four good fast bowlers, three quality spinners, and a batting line up that looks settled. We have qualified for the knockout stages in both the Vijay Hazare Trophy and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and I am hopeful that we will be able to win the Ranji Trophy this time around."

Puneet Bali, secretary of Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) was also bullish about team's chances. He said: I have high hopes from this team. Either we are going to be very close or we will win the cup.

There is no dearth of talent and potential in this Punjab side. The squad looks exciting on paper with promising youngsters such as Shubman Gill, Anmolpreet Singh, Mayank Markandey, Nkhil Chaudhary and Sanvir Singh along with experienced stars like Mandeep Singh, Gurkeerat Mann, and pacers Siddharth Kaul and Baltej Singh.

Punjab's employer described new coach Munish bali and new secretary Puneet Bali as "players' favourites". The skipper said: "Most of the squad knows Munish bali or has played under him in the junior days. I feel relaxed that the team looks organized under him. He is calling all the shots." The credit, he adds, "should also be given to Puneet Bali, as his vision for Punjab cricket is very great. I think we are very fortunate to play under a great administrator and coach."

The selection committee has chosen the team for the first two games to verify the workload management of the players.

When asked about this new initiative, Puneet Bali said: There are two reasons. First, you keep the players fresh. I'm talking about fast bowlers, especially. They are bowling 60-70 in two games and there are chances of failures. We did not want to take the risk.

Second, we also have to think about the future. There are boys in Punjab who have done immensely well in the district's cricket. I look at the scheme of things from the past, where despite performing well, they never had the opportunity to play. I simply asked everyone to broaden their horizons and have some rotation and rest policy.

That is why we have selected the team for only two games. All reserve players will train here. There will also be a Punjab A team, which will play matches simultaneously with the Ranji team.

However, lack of experience can be a headache. Without Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, the pressure to keep the team together will fall on Mandeep, Gurkeerat and Siddharth.

The employer accepts that this is a great concern. In any sport, there is no substitute for experience. Gurkeerat, Sid (Siddharth Kaul), and I will have to take on additional responsibility. But young people cannot take their place for granted. They should take advantage of their possibilities and play according to the situation, he said.

On Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh, the Punjab boss said: We as a team miss them a lot. We miss your experience in our dressing room. But they are still very involved with the team. They keep in touch with all the players. .nTo maintain the light atmosphere in the locker room, the Punjab patron has presented new ideas and has constituted three committees: entertainment, discipline and airport. I am on the fines committee. I charge fines to players who are late for training or miss the team bus, he concluded with a smile.

Punjab will open its campaign against Rajasthan, which will be played in Jaipur from December 9. Punjab's second game is against Hyderabad since December 17 at the Dhruv Pandove stadium in Patiala.