If Mumbai begins as an overwhelming favourite to beat Uttar Pradesh and claim its fourth Vijay Hazare (50-over) title, skipper Prithvi Shaw’s irrepressible form is a big reason.
Shaw, with a record aggregate of 754 runs so far, could break the 800-run in Sunday's final at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground. In fact, looking at his run of four centuries – including three in excess of 150 – he could even be expected to go past the 900-run mark.
Discarded from the Test team, the 21-year-old is desperate to catch the eyes of the National selectors ahead of the India’s team selection for the three-match ODI series against England. Unless UP grabs the early chance that Shaw is known to offer, the youngster could well dictate the course of the contest.
No doubt, Shaw has scored with vengeance against teams like Delhi, Karnataka, Saurashtra and Puducherry, UP faces other factors too.
UP, finalist to Railways in the 2004-05 season, will have to deal with the form of Shaw’s opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal (179 runs) and former captain Aditya Tare (181). In addition, experienced medium pacer Dhawal Kulkarni and leg-spinner Prashant Solanki (14 wickets each) have caused maximum damage this season.
Under a young captain in Karan Sharma, UP is a fairly inexperienced side. But its journey to the final has been inspiring. The way the side rallied from 66 for four to outplay host Delhi was commendable.
Though its top-order has disappointed in the knockout phase, Karan, Akshdeep Nath and Upendra Yadav have rescued the team by displaying fine temperament.
Left-arm spinner Shivam Sharma (20 wickets) could still hold the key for UP but it will be interesting to see how the medium pacers Yash Dayal, Shivam Mavi and Aaqib Khan deal with Shaw early on in the innings. Familiarity with the conditions, too, could help UP in its third successive outing at the Kotla where Mumbai plays its first of the season.
Match starts at 9 am
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