Odisha have been one of the underdogs in the Indian domestic circuit © Getty Images
Odisha have been one of the underdogs in the Indian domestic circuit © Getty Images

The Odisha cricket team, which is part of Group A in the Ranji Trophy 2015-16, has been among the underdogs in Indian domestic cricket. It is one state that can complain of constant under-selection for the Indian team on a consistent basis, having barely produced any international cricketers despite having a great crop of talent in their grassroots. Known as Orissa until 2011 — when the state officially changed its name — the team was originally part of the Bihar cricket team, which in itself existed for a period of nearly seven decades between 1936-37 and 2003-04. Read all Ranji Trophy 2015-16 team previews here

The most famous names from the state are Shiv Sunder Das (23 Tests and 4 ODIs) and Debasis Mohanty (2 Tests and 45 ODIs), both of whom are the only players from the state to have played Tests. Mohanty thrived during the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s and was picked for the Indian squad in the 1999 World Cup. In the First-Class format, Mohanty has 417 wickets from 117 appearances to his credit, including a haul of 10 for 46 during the East Zone versus South Zone game in 2001. Das, on the other hand, was hailed as India’s answer to a ‘genuine Test opener’ at the turn of the millennium, before failing to convert promising starts into big scores and finding himself dropped. Ranji Trophy 2015-16: Tripura squad and team Preview

Sanjay Raul played a couple of games against Pakistan in 1998, but he too sank into oblivion soon after. Among the other well-known names the state has produced are former Indian Premier League (IPL) chairman Ranjib Biswal, who is currently the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) President, and also captained the side formerly.

Odisha squad for Ranji Trophy 2015-16: Biplab Samantray (c), Govinda Podder (vc), Basant Mohanty, Deepak Behera, Jayant Behera, Amit Das, Pratik Das, Rajesh Dhupar (wk), Abhilash Mallick, Natraj Behera, Suryakant Pradhan, Roshan Kumar Rao (wk), Girija Rout, Anurag Sarangi, Alok Chandra Sahoo.

Key Players: Among the most important names in the current squad are skipper Biplab Samantray, Natraj Behera, Basant Mohanty, etc, with the first two boasting of IPL experience. Behera was voted the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) Player of the Year in 2011.

Match Group Date Venue Time
Vidarbha vs Odisha A Oct 01  – Oct 4 Nagpur 9:30 IST
Odisha vs Maharashtra A Oct 8  – Oct 11 Cuttack 9:30 IST
Odisha vs Assam A Oct 15  – Oct 18 Cuttack 9:30 IST
Odisha vs Delhi A Oct 30  – Nov 02 Cuttack 9:30 IST
Karnataka vs Odisha A Nov 07  – Nov 10 Bengaluru 9:30 IST
Haryana vs Odisha A Nov 15  – Nov 18 Rohtak 9:30 IST
Bengal vs Odisha A Nov 23  – Nov 26 Kolkata 9:30 IST
Rajasthan vs Odisha A Dec 01  – Dec 04 Jaipur 9:30 IST

Odisha play their first game on the opening day of the tournament, i.e. on October 1, when they face off against Vidarbha. The biggest tests for the Odias await in the form of defending champions Karnataka, who have been holding on to the trophy for the last two seasons. Odisha have three home games — against Maharashtra, Assam and Delhi respectively — out of their eight group fixtures.

(Amit Banerjee, a reporter at CricketCountry, takes keen interest in photography, travelling, technology, automobiles, food and, of course, cricket. He can be followed on Twitter via his handle @akb287)