Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 knockouts: Punjab holds the edge over Karnataka

With Kaul, Arshdeep Singh, Mayank Markande and Harpreet Brar in the ranks, Punjab boasts of one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament.

Karnataka will rely on Devdutt Padikkal - the side’s leading run-scorer in the tournament - for a good start.   -  SUDHAKARA JAIN

Punjab starts as firm favourites against Karnataka in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy quarterfinal in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

Punjab holds the edge, having recorded a comprehensive nine-wicket victory over Karnataka when the sides met in the group stage in Bengaluru. In that outing, Punjab pacer Siddharth Kaul starred with a hat-trick, and wicketkeeper-batsman Prabhsimran Singh (89 n.o.) came good with the bat. Punjab went on to top Group ‘A’ with five wins in as many matches, while Karnataka finished second.

With Kaul, Arshdeep Singh, Mayank Markande and Harpreet Brar in the ranks, Punjab boasts of one of the best bowling attacks in the tournament.

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Karnataka will rely on opening batsman Devdutt Padikkal - the side’s leading run-scorer in the tournament - to negate this threat. Skipper Karun Nair, who has struggled to find his groove, must live up to his reputation as a big-match player. Karnataka will continue to miss the services of all-rounder K. Gowtham, who is out with an injury.

Karnataka coach Yere Goud is not too worried about the loss to Punjab earlier in the competition. “This is altogether a different stage. Knockout games bring their own challenges. Also, we are playing on a different surface and in different conditions,” Goud said in a media interaction.

On his side’s failure to consistently put up big totals, Goud said, “I can't say batting is a weak link. Our batsmen aren't converting the starts. They have to turn those 20s to 70s. Also, one batsman has to look to bat through. If this happens, we have a good chance of doing well in the knockouts.”