A well-organised Himachal Pradesh will meet a star-spangled Mumbai as two first-timers promise a quality title duel in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy at the Eden Gardens here on Saturday.
Himachal, led by an inspiring Rishi Dhawan, has benefitted from its solid core of players who have been playing together for some years, know their roles well and adapt to different situations nicely.
Whether fighting back after two washed out matches in the league phase or seeing off host Bengal in a high-scoring last-ball thriller or stopping a strong Punjab in the semifinals, Himachal players have always risen to the occasion.
Utility batters such as Akash Vashisht, Nikhil Gangta, Prashant Chopra and Sumeet Verma have taken up the responsibility and scored the runs.
Bowlers, including K.D. Singh, Mayank Dagar, Pankaj Jaswal, Vaibhav Arora and Rishi, have executed the plans well.
Himachal, devoid of big stars, will continue to depend on its approach, which helped it win the Vijay Hazare Trophy last year.
Mumbai will be keen to win its first crown in the shortest format. Other than captain Ajinkya Rahane, the presence of IPL regulars Prithvi Shaw, Shreyas Iyer, Shivam Dube, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Sarfaraz Khan make it a formidable team.
Mumbai – consisting of attacking opener Prithvi and experienced finisher Shreyas (who top-scored for his team in the two knockout matches against Saurashtra and Vidarbha) – has got depth in its batting.
Its bowling department, including Tushar Deshpande and Shams Mulani, has got variety.
Mumbai needs to play to its potential to stop a well-oiled Himachal.
(Match starts at 4.30 p.m.)
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