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    Kanitkar pulls out, Menaria to lead Rajasthan

    Jaipur: Defending champions and hosts Rajasthan were dealt a blow ahead of their crucial Ranji Trophy Elite Group A match against Uttar Pradesh when captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar was ruled out due to a shoulder injury.

    Kanitkar has aggravated the shoulder injury he had sustained while fielding in the last match against Mumbai and will have to sit out of the game starting on Tuesday at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium. He was uncomfortable during the practice session on Monday and opted out, fearing a longer lay-off.

    In his absence, Ashok Menaria will lead the hosts, who are looking to bounce back after three successive draws.

    Rajasthan, who had surprised in the previous season by clinching the title after starting from bottom of the Plate Group, have only three points so far.

    Their batting has clicked, with Kanitkar, Menaria and Vineet Saxena among the runs, but their biggest worry has been Deepak Chahar, who has not been able to get wickets despite bowling a good line and length. Veteran Pankaj Singh too has not been very impressive, and Rajasthan have conceded a first-innings lead in all three matches. The bowlers have failed to contain the opposition, despite having a 500-plus score against Railways and Mumbai.

    The visitors Uttar Pradesh are sitting pretty on third place, with nine points in their tally after their three outings. They have a sound batting line-up, led by Parminder Singh, who has some big scores under his belt. Veteran Mohammad Kaif, Tanmay Srivastav, Eklavya Dwivedi, Prashant Gupta and the rest are also capable of putting up tall scores.

    The bowling department too has the experienced RP Singh and Sudeep Tyagi, while Piyush Chawla too is a wily customer.