Cricbuzz Staff •
The impressive Mayank will be looking to make an impact in Karnataka’s crucial game versus Mumbai © Getty
A batting line-up that blends solidity with a zippy dash of enterprise, slew of pacers equipped with skill and expertise and adroit spinners – the eight-time Ranji Trophy champions, Karnataka, have a nice spread of talent to surge their way to the title.
In the Group stages, they won four out of six matches to top the group with 32 points. However, to win the championship and achieve one’s ambitions, just reaching the doors of Indian domestic cricket’s heaven isn’t enough but it demands you to unlock it. The Karnataka camp will know they are pitted in a battle of heavyweights when they lock horns against Mumbai in the quarterfinals in Nagpur.
With 1064 runs at at astounding average of 133, including scores of 304* 176, 23, 90, 133*, 173 and 134, Karnataka’s Mayank Agarwal has been in the form of his life. With Manish Pandey on national duties and KL Rahul being rested ahead of the gruelling South Africa tour, the onus will be on Karun Nair, Ravikumar Samarth, Nischal, Binny, Shreyas Gopal and K Gowtham to do the bulk of the scoring. The able duo of Vinay Kumar and Mithun will lead the pace attack. Gowtham and Gopal will look to spin a web around the opposition ranks.
Their opponents, Mumbai, haven’t had an excellent season, and they qualified for the knockout phase via collecting 21 points, finishing second in Group B. However, the 41-time champions have time and again lifted their game for the knockout rounds of the Ranji tournament.Their batting would rely on the shoulders of the promising Prithvi (521 runs). Siddhesh Lad, too, has shown admirable temperament to accrue 613 runs. Dhawal Kulkarni, Akash Parkar and Vijay Gohil have been among the wickets. Shardul Thakur, the pace spearhead, who injured his shoulder in the game versus Tripura will be missing from action.
The quarterfinal stage of the tournament isn’t just about Mumbai and Karnataka. Lest we forget that Gujarat are the defending champions, and under the leadership of Parthiv Patel, have grown into a formidable unit. They will go into their match versus Bengal as favourites.
Piyush Chawla, the import from UP, has taken a bagful of wickets this season – 31 scalps. Siddarth Desai has complemented the veteran legspinner, by picking up 28 scalps. Priyank Panchal, known for his exquisite driving, is leading the batting charts for them with 538 runs. Bengal, on the other hand, will miss the services of Mohammed Shami and Wriddhimann Saha. Manoj Tiwary, the captain, Abhishek Raman and Sudip Chatterjee will have to stand up and deliver with the willow while Ashok Dinda, the veteran pacer, will lead the attack.
Kerala, the surprise package of the tournament, will be brimming with confidence, when they take on Vidarbha in another quarterfinal in Surat. Kerala, who ended up second in Group B, will hope for Jalaj Saxena (38 wickets and 482 runs) to continue his great run. Sanju Samson (577 runs) and Sijimon Joseph (19 wickets) have also played key roles for them. A word of praise for Dav Whatmore, the head coach, for steering the side to their maiden quarterfinals in the Ranji history.
Vidarbha, meanwhile, would look towards Akshay Wakhare, the off-spinner, Faiz Fazal (710 runs), the captain, Sanjay Rangaswamy (665 runs) and Ganesh Satish to make an impact. Umesh Yadav, the experienced pacer, has been rested with the South Africa tour in mind.
Delhi and Madhya Pradesh will complete the quarterfinal line-up. For Delhi, they won’t be able to avail the services of their captain Ishant Sharma, as he was playing the final Test against Sri Lanka. Ishant has bowled with renewed zest and unlike before, has consistently hit the seam to bag 20 scalps. In his absence, Vikas Mehra and Navdeep Saini will lead the attack. Nitish Rana and the old warhorse, Gautam Gambhir, will have to shore up the batting.
As we wait for the action to begin, check out our preview for the quarterfinal stage of the tournament.
You can also go through the rich history of the intense rivalry between Mumbai and Karnataka.
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