Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Indore all set for inter-state carnival

It will be action-packed five days, with four matches scheduled each day from March 8 to 12, followed by the final on March 14. The topper of the two groups will vie for the trophy.

Vidarbha skipper Faiz Fazal will be hoping to make it count for his team.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

The stage is set for the concluding part of the inter-State Twenty20 carnival here from Friday before glittering IPL extravaganza begins in Chennai in about two weeks. Ten teams will compete for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, the last of the current season’s BCCI’s senior men’s tournaments.

It will be action-packed five days, with four matches scheduled each day from March 8 to 12, followed by the final on March 14. The topper of the two groups will vie for the trophy.

Vidarbha surprised one and all by retaining the Ranji Trophy and the Irani Cup. The team has proved to be a force to reckon with, and the inclusion of fast bowler Umesh Yadav in the squad at the expense of the architect of its Ranji Trophy win last year, Rajneesh Gurbani, reveals a lot about the champion team’s ambitions.

But Vidarbha, despite advancing to the Super League from the preliminary round, is not actually seen as “among the favourites” to take home the title.

Coach Chandrakant Pandit, was on the job, though, on Wednesday at the Holkar Stadium, giving extensive catch practice. Whether the team, without Wasim Jaffer, has the wherewithal to surprise a number of teams with Twenty20 flair, has to be seen.

While Vidarbha completed its training and net session before sunset, defending champion Delhi went about its business under the watchful eyes of coach Mithun Manhas and captain Ishant Sharma. Delhi has made one change from the qualifying stage, bringing in Vikas Tokas for Gaurav Kumar.

Delhi is one of the five-title winning State teams that will feature in the seven-day tournament; the others being Maharashtra, Bengal, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh. East Zone won it in 2017. Tamil Nadu won the inaugural inter-State Twenty20 in 2007 and Baroda lifted the trophy five seasons ago.

The ten teams have through the five preliminary rounds played at five centres and one of the highlights of the matches played here was Shreyas Iyer’s record breaking 55-ball 147 against Sikkim, the highest Twenty 20 score by an Indian. There are some talented who would go for broke over the next seven days to catch the attention, but it’s unlikely that Iyer’s record will go down so soon.

Mumbai and Karnataka, the two teams that will clash in the evening match on Friday, were the last two teams to arrive at the Stadium to practice under the lights. Mumbai suffered a setback with skipper Ajinkya Rahane pulling out of the team a few days ago owing to a thigh injury and in his absence, Iyer will lead the team.

 

Shaw given option to skip practice

Slightly under the weather, Mumbai opener Prithvi Shaw was given the option to skip practice on Thursday.

Shaw, who did not play the Test series in Australia because of an ankle injury, retuned to competitive cricket in the Group C matches of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy here.

Group A: Jharkhand, Gujarat, Railways, Bengal, Maharashtra

Group B: Delhi, Vidarbha, Karnataka, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh.

Friday’s matches: Jharkhand v Gujarat, Delhi v Vidarbha, Railways v Bengal and Mumbai v Karnataka.