It may be a while before domestic cricket returns to its pre-pandemic glory, but things are certainly getting better.

The Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day tournament, which opens on Wednesday, offers another opportunity for the fringe players, who have even more to look forward to this season with the Indian Premier League’s mega auction coming up, that too for an expanded tournament.

Many of Kerala’s youngsters will be hoping to catch the talent scout’s eye over the next week at Rajkot, where the team will play all its five matches in the league phase of India’s premier domestic one-day tournament.

After a training session at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground on Tuesday afternoon, coach Tinu Yohannan said the team was in a confident frame of mind.

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“The boys had done well to reach the knock-out stage at the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament in New Delhi last month and our training sessions at Krishnagiri (Wayanad) also went well,” Yohannan told Sportstar. “Our aim is to qualify for the knockout stage in this tournament, too.”

He added the team would love to do it by topping the group. “We certainly have the team to come on top of this group,” said the former India seamer. “It is a strong group though, and there are no pushovers.”

He singled out Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh as the toughest opponents. “They both are excellent sides with proven, in-form players in their line-up,” he said. “We expect strong challenges from the other teams such as Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand.”

Yohannan said the wickets at Rajkot could be ideal for batting. “And that could work in our favour,” he said. “Our top-order was amongst the runs in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy and here I feel batters in the middle and lower order would get more chances as it’s a 50-over tournament.”

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