Vijay Hazare Trophy: Star-studded Karnataka, Tamil Nadu brace up for final

With both units possessing strong batting line-ups, the summit clash at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium may well turn out to be high-scoring.

Reassuring presence: R. Ashwin at practice at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Thursday. Ashwin will lend weight to TN's bowling attack.   -  G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR

An exciting fare is on the cards as traditional rivals Karnataka and Tamil Nadu face each other in the Vijay Hazare Trophy final, at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.

That the two form sides are packed with quality players only adds to the buzz surrounding this marquee clash. Tamil Nadu, the sole unbeaten side in this tournament, boasts of stars like R. Ashwin, skipper Dinesh Karthik, Abhinav Mukund, M. Vijay and Vijay Shankar.

Karnataka is not short on big names either, with K. L. Rahul, Manish Pandey, Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair on the roster.

A run-fest on the cards

With both units possessing strong batting line-ups, the summit clash may well turn out to be high-scoring. A look at the numbers suggests that the host holds a slight edge in this department.

Karnataka opener Devdutt Padikkal (598 runs) is the highest run-scorer of the tournament, and his team-mates Rahul and Manish figure in the top-five of the same list. Mayank made his return to Karnataka colours from India duty for the semifinal fixture against Chhattisgarh, and showed his class with an electric unbeaten 33-ball 47.

Tamil Nadu has banked on the solid middle-order presence of B. Aparajith (532 runs), who is fourth on the list of highest run-scorers. Experienced southpaw opener Abhinav Mukund is not too far behind with 515 runs.

Valuable Ashwin

While Karnataka is boosted by the arrival of Mayank, the visitor is thrilled to have Ashwin back. The spinner’s tight eight overs helped his side keep Gujarat down to a manageable score in the semifinal.

Tamil Nadu coach Diwakar Vasu stated that Ashwin brings a lot to the table. “Ashwin adds a lot to the team. His inputs — along with Vijay, Mukund and other seniors — contribute a lot to the juniors. That’s very heartening. The seniors are helping the juniors both on and off the field, which is very important,” Vasu, who represented Tamil Nadu with distinction as an all-rounder, said.

Vasu added that Tamil Nadu has “turned over a new leaf,” referring to the side’s failure to make the knockout rounds in the previous two editions.

‘Fun and hard cricket’

On the Tamil Nadu-Karnataka rivalry, Vasu, himself a veteran of many a battle between the two teams, said, “We’ve always enjoyed our rivalry with Karnataka. It’s always been fun, and hard cricket. Neither team will ever give up on winning the game. I think it’s going to be the same. We have two very good teams playing each other, with many superb cricketers in the mix. It should be a good final.”

The inclement rains which have hit the city in recent weeks could pose a threat to the action. The top-class drainage system at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, however, could save the day. Entry is free.

Former India cricketer Gundappa Viswanath, on behalf of the BCCI, will felicitate six retired umpires before the start of the match. The umpires are Sanjay Hazare, Sudhir Asrani, Kusha Prakash, Milind Pathak, Seetharama Prabhu and Bhanu Prakash.

 

The teams
  • Karnataka: Manish Pandey (c), K. L. Rahul, Devdutt Padikkal, Karun Nair, Pravin Dubey, Rohan Kadam, Abhishek Reddy, K. Gowtham, J. Suchith, A. Mithun, Prateek Jain, Ronit More, B. R. Sharath, Shreyas Gopal, V. Koushik.
  • Tamil Nadu: Dinesh Karthik (c), Vijay Shankar, Abhinav Mukund, N. Jagadeesan, B. Aparajith, R. Ashwin, Washington Sundar, C. Hari, M. Vijay, T. Natarajan, K. Vignesh, M. Mohammed, Abhishek Tanwar, J. Kousik, Sai Kishore, M. Ashwin, M. Siddharth.

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