Vijay Hazare Trophy: Himachal faces Uttar Pradesh’s might in quarterfinals 

Resilient Uttar Pradesh stands in the way as Himachal Pradesh bids to make it to semifinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy for the first time in six years. 

Cricket bat and balls

REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE: If UP makes it to the semifinals, new coach Vijay Dahiya will have ensured his first success. The team managed just two wins in five matches in the 2021-22 season of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy.   -  GETTY IMAGES

After adapting well to the demands of 50-over cricket in sultry Mumbai, Himachal Pradesh will play in conditions vastly different when it faces Uttar Pradesh in the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium here on Tuesday.  

A win will send the team into the semifinals for the first time in six years. 

Executing a recalibrated team strategy based on the conditions will be made more difficult by the fact that the team will be playing after a week’s break, and captain Rishi Dhawan’s performance with bat and ball will again be key to its chances of success against a mightier opponent.

READ: Vijay Hazare Trophy quarterfinal: Tamil Nadu, Karnataka meet again for semifinal spot

Dhawan, who last played for India in 2016, has hit a purple patch in recent weeks in white-ball cricket. He has single-handedly ensured his team a berth in the knockouts with his all-round performance, but his batting form is especially noteworthy as he already has 332 runs under his belt in the tournament, an excellent tally considering he comes in to bat in the middle order. His scores in the group stage read: 61, 44, 57, 71 and 91 n.o.  

His team will heavily lean on him also to make early breakthroughs in favourable conditions if it bowls first.  

Dhawan made useful contributions with bat and ball both times his team made it to the knockout rounds of a white-ball tourney – the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy in 2020-21 as well as in 2021-22. But such reliance on one man makes the team vulnerable during games in which he doesn’t perform to his expectations.

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Uttar Pradesh, on the other hand, has a number of players to look up to, despite the absence of batter Upendra Yadav and left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar, both of whom toured South Africa to play for India ‘A’.  

Aksh Deep Nath was the leading run-getter for UP in the last season, when UP made it to the final, and it bodes well for the side that he has returned to form with a vital knock under pressure against Madhya Pradesh in the pre-quarterfinals. Rinku Singh, the other star from last season, is also among the runs.

ALSO READ: Vijay Hazare Trophy: Yash Dayal, Uttar Pradesh’s unsung hero 

Moreover, its fast-bowling department looks potent. Its x-factor this season has been the left-arm seamer Yash Dayal, and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ankit Rajpoot are also sharp weapons in the arsenal. 

If UP makes it to the semifinals, new coach Vijay Dahiya will have ensured his first success. The team managed just two wins in five matches in the 2021-22 season of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. 

After its exciting win on Sunday, the team took the day off on Monday, while Himachal Pradesh had a net practice at the Rajasthan Cricket Association premises here. 

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