Reduced stakes put a dampener on the Vijay Hazare trophy, which commences in multiple venues across the country on Saturday. With the Indian squads already announced for the upcoming tours to New Zealand and Bangladesh, exceptional performances in the premier men’s domestic one-day competition will not translate to appropriate rewards.
A total of 38 teams feature in five Elite groups. These group matches will be held in five cities - New Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Ranchi. All knockout fixtures will be held in Ahmedabad. The group toppers will progress to the quarterfinals, while the second-placed sides and the best among the rest will advance to the pre-quarterfinals.
There is no place for the lower Plate Group this time around.
Himachal Pradesh, which rode on Rishi Dhawan’s all-round brilliance to clinch the title last year, will compete in Elite A at New Delhi. Batter Prashanth Chopra and left-arm spinner Mayank Dagar - the other heroes of Himachal Pradesh’s campaign - return in search of a repeat.
Tamil Nadu, the runner-up, boasts of a strong squad. B. Indrajith leads the unit, while all-rounder and vice-captain Washington Sundar makes his comeback from injury. Tamil Nadu enters the tournament with vital match practice under the belt, having outclassed the visiting Bangladesh XI in two one-day matches a few days ago.
Members of the Indian team will give this tournament a miss, but there are a few popular names in the fray to keep the interest alive. Ajinkya Rahane (Mumbai), Prithvi Shaw (Mumbai), Shahrukh Khan (Tamil Nadu), Mayank Agarwal (Karnataka) and Ruturaj Gaikwad (Maharashtra) will look to rack up the runs in a bid to grab the selectors’ attention.
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