Vijay Hazare final: Saurashtra SWOT analysis

An analysis of the Strengths, Weaknesses, opposition Threats, and what's at stake for the team and its players.

Two of the stalwarts of the Saurashtra batting line-up.   -  K.V. S. Giri

Vijay Hazare Trophy was the last one Saurashtra won and — a decade on, having won this competition in 2008 — the Cheteshwar Pujara-led side has a great chance to get its hands on a trophy once again. Standing in its way is an accomplished Karnataka side, which was one of the favourites at the start of the tournament and according to popular opinion, probably is, going into Tuesday's final as well.

Here, Sportstar looks at Saurashtra's road to the final, its strengths and possible weaknesses.

Road to the final

Finished second (to Hyderabad) in Group D, winning four of the six matches (a win per cent of 66.66) -> beat derby rival Baroda in the quarterfinal -> beat Andhra in the semifinal.

Strength

A standout feature of this Saurashtra team is the experience it has in abundance, in the presence of India Test regulars Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravindra Jadeja and the former Karnataka top-order batsman, Robin Uthappa.

Barring Uthappa, who has 95 runs in six matches, pretty much everyone in the batting line-up — Samarth Vyas, Chirag Jani, Arpit Vasavada, and Prerak Mankad — have scored important, big runs at some stage of the tournament.

Arpit Vasavada has been crucial for Saurashtra batting in the middle order.   -  Vivek Bendre

 

Also importantly, the batting line-up has had continuity, with the seven aforementioned playing pretty much right through the tournament.

Saurashtra also boasts depth in batting, which offers a two-fold advantage: lose wickets early and you still have batsmen capable of digging the team out of trouble and if you make a solid start, you can put the foot on the accelerator much earlier.

Weakness

A senior player, Jaydev Unadkat was not missed as such by Saurashtra in the semifinal.   -  K. V. S. Giri

 

The bowling, even with India's new T20 specialist Jaydev Unadkat in the side, was a slight letdown against Jammu and Kashmir and Hyderabad, against whom Saurashtra lost despite making 260-plus scores. (What, however, also needs to be said is, this team successfully defended a seemingly insufficient 255 against Andhra in the semifinal.)

Opportunities

In the grand scheme of things, Saurashtra can add to its tally of three trophies to date (two Ranji Trophy titles when it was known as Nawanagar and Western India and one Vijay Hazare Trophy).

Robin Uthappa has big-match experience and a nous of his old team-mates.   -  Vijay Soneji

 

Personally, for players like Ravindra Jadeja and Uthappa, who have ambitions of playing limited-overs cricket for India, a good performance here might put them in the fray for selection for future tournaments.

Threat

This is pretty much a match of equals, but if Saurashtra is to taste success, the wicket of Mayank Agarwal could be the make or break.

Karnataka's Mayank Agarwal plays a shot against Maharashtra in the semifinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy on Saturday   -  SHIV KUMAR PUSHPAKAR

 

109, 84, 28, 102, 89, 140, 89 (an aggregate of 633 runs, at a batting average of  90.42) read Agarwal's scores this tournament. The only match he was dismissed for a score of less than 50 (28), Karnataka lost (to Punjab).

Unlike itself, Karnataka hasn't always had contributions from its entire batting line-up and Agarwal's wicket up front will help Saurashtra restrict Karnataka to a chaseable score or successfully defend a total it sets in the event of batting first.