Big names will look to stand tall when Karnataka takes on Uttar Pradesh in their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal outing which commences at Alur ground here on Monday.
The home team is led by experienced batter Manish Pandey, who will feature in his 95th first-class match. Opener Mayank Agarwal returns to the squad, and will look to make amends for a poor run in the IPL. Southpaw Devdutt Padikkal, part of the Rajasthan Royals unit which reached the IPL final, is another proven performer.
Karun Nair, whose unbeaten 175 against Jammu & Kashmir in the group stage provided hope after a long lean patch, will find a middle-order spot.
In the absence of Prasidh Krishna, away on national duty, the bowling attack will be spearheaded by pacer Ronit More and off-spinner K. Gowtham. The support cast - V. Koushik, V. Vyshak, M. Venkatesh, K. Vidwath and others - are fairly inexperienced.
On the bowling line-up, Karnataka bowling coach S. Arvind said, “They are promising, they know the conditions and how to utilise it. The youngsters may not have played first-class cricket, but they come in with experience from the Under-25 competition (C. K. Nayudu Trophy). They know the lengths they need to bowl, and have studied the batsmen’s weaknesses as well.”
Uttar Pradesh, which like Karnataka topped the table in the group stage, will look for contributions from established players. Priyam Garg featured in only two games for Sunrisers Hyderabad in IPL 2022, but he will hope to continue his good form in the red ball format.
Kolkata Knight Riders’ Rinku Singh, who hit 67 and 78 n.o. to power Uttar Pradesh past Maharashtra in their last group stage match, is the batting mainstay. Fast bowler Ankit Rajpoot is the side’s leading wicket-taker (12 wickets).