The ODI World Cup may have concluded over the weekend. But the one-day format will be on the minds of the domestic cricket fraternity despite the cricket world moving into the T20 mode, with an eye on next year’s T20 World Cup.
Interestingly, Punjab and Baroda - the two teams that faced each other in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (SMAT) final earlier this month - will revive their rivalry on Thursday in the opening matchday of the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
On a chilly Mohali evening on November 6, Mandeep Singh’s Punjab halted Baroda’s brilliant run in a high-scoring SMAT final.
With the adjacent city to Mumbai being the hometown of Punjab head coach Aavishkar Salvi, his family had delivered a home-cooked meal for the outfit.
But before enjoying the meal, the Punjab boys slogged it out for almost three hours at the Dadoji Kondadev Stadium. On the other side of the strip that’s been prepared under the watchful eyes of BCCI-appointed curator Y. L. Chandrasekhar Rao of Hyderabad, Krunal Pandya’s lot trained hard with head coach Mukund Parmar and bowling coach S. Arvind monitoring closely.
Some may feel that the Group E opening clash will be an immediate opportunity for Baroda to settle the score of the Mushtaq Ali Trophy final loss. But the team isn’t looking at it that way.
“It’s not a grudge match. It’s a fresh start to the new format. We are looking to continue the good work over the last month in the 50-over format and start off with a win,” said Parmar, the Gujarat stalwart who took over the reins at the start of the season.
The match will also be a clash between the Group E heavyweights, with Tamil Nadu - the third powerhouse in the group - set to begin its campaign on Saturday. Punjab will be without left-arm pacer Arshdeep Singh, one of its T20 triumph stars, who will be representing India for the T20I series against Australia.
“It’s not the first time we are playing without Arshdeep. And in the last two-three years, we are used to facing a big opponent at the start of our Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign,” said Mandeep. “I am confident that the weeklong preparation has enabled all the boys to adapt to the format and we hope to start off with a win.”
- Punjab vs Baroda (Thane)
- Goa vs Madhya Pradesh (Brabourne Stadium)
- Bengal vs Nagaland (Bandra-Kurla Complex)
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