Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Mumbai face star-studded Baroda

Baroda, who possess the highest run-getter and the highest wicket-taker in the tournament in the side, will play Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday. In the other fixture from Group A, Kerala will play Vidarbha.

Baroda have players like Deepak Hooda (in pic) capable of turning and winning T20 matches on their own.   -  S. Subramanium (File Photo)

Mumbai may be topping Group A, but as they enter the last day of the Super League stage, they know that they are far from finishing the group at the top and qualify to the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. After all, they will face a desperate bunch of boys from Baroda at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.

The Twenty20 format often sees a solo performance driving a team home. And the Baroda outfit has a plethora of stars who are proven match-winners, especially in Twenty20.

Hardik Pandya (336 runs), the latest allrounder who will soon join India for Twenty20 series Down Under, is leading the run-scoring charts for the tournament. Captain Irfan Pathan (15 wickets) is leading the bowlers’ table. Deepak Hooda has made useful contributions all through the league and Super League stage while Yusuf Pathan is due for a match-winning contribution.

No wonder, then, that Aditya Tare’s men will go into the match with the mindset of it being a virtual semifinal. Based on the result of Kerala’s must-win clash against Vidarbha in the morning, Mumbai and Baroda will have a clear idea about the equation for their game.

However, Mumbai's players, who staged a great escape against Maharashtra in their last league game in Cuttack last week, will rather prefer topping the table with maximum points than think about the possibility of a tie with Baroda or Kerala, or both these teams.

That Shreyas Iyer and Tare have been in great form with the bat is a great plus for Mumbai. For Iyer, however, the biggest positive is to have gotten into a winning habit after a topsy-turvy league stage campaign. “We were winning matches, then [lost] a match in Cuttack. That's a thing of the past now. We have got into a habit of winning matches and would hope to continue with it,” Iyer said, after cracking 86 against Vidarbha on Saturday.

PLAYING ON MONDAY:

Group A (Wankhede Stadium)

Kerala vs Vidarbha, 9 am

Mumbai vs Baroda, 1 pm