Vijay Hazare Trophy: Karnataka faces Hyderabad; Mumbai meets Maharashtra

A preview of the Vijay Hazare Trophy quarterfinal clashes, which get underway in the capital on Wednesday (February 21).

Mayank Agarwal was all smiles during Karnataka's practice session on the eve of Vijay Hazare Trophy quarterfinals.   -  Sandeep Saxena

After some seesaw battles leading to the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare (50-over) championship, four teams from West Zone and three from South join an extremely-lucky Delhi, when the action commences in the Capital on Wednesday.

Going by the performances in the league phase, there is no clear favourite. Reputations have taken a severe beating. The biggest surprise was, as defending champion, Tamil Nadu finishing with only two wins against four successive defeats – to Goa, Mumbai, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra. Runner-up Bengal, too, struggled and won only its last two matches after being pushed out of contention for a quarterfinal spot.

Read: TN, Rajasthan play for pride

What more, even formidable teams like Karnataka, Delhi and Mumbai, besides Saurashtra, finished runner-up in their groups, behind Baroda, Maharashtra, Andhra and Hyderabad, in that order.

On Wednesday, Karnataka should fancy its chances against Hyderabad, the group ‘D’ topper, at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground.

Hyderabad reached this far by beating Services, Jharkhand, Saurashtra, Jammu & Kashmir and Chattisgarh but lost expectedly to Ranji champion Vidarbha. Akshath Reddy (331 runs), Rohit Rayudu (329) and B. Sandeep (270) have shown form but things could get difficult against Karnataka’s bowling. Among the bowlers, pacer Mohammad Siraj (18 wickets) has been outstanding.

For Karnataka, Mayank Agarwal (412 runs) hit two centuries and two half centuries in five innings and continued the form produced in Ranji Trophy. Though Vinay Kumar and A. Mithun are not available owing to injuries, left-arm paceman S. Arvind, all-rounder Stuart Binny and wicketkeeper C. M. Gautam are back under new skipper Karun Nair.

Bengal needs a sports psychologist, feels Tiwary

Mumbai, which faces Maharashtra, has struggled to play to its lofty standards this season. Defeats to Rajasthan and Andhra came on unexpected lines before it made the ‘cut’. Siddhesh Lad (368 runs) with three centuries in five innings, and Suryakumar Yadav (295) have shown consistency while left-arm spinner Dhrumil Matkar and left-arm medium pacer Royston Dias (10 wickets each) struck regularly.

Maharashtra, despite losing comprehensively to Delhi, won all other completed matches with comfortable margins and deservedly topped its group. Prashant Kore has replaced an injured Shamshuzama Kazi in the
squad.

Delhi owes its presence here to Bengal’s victory over Himachal Pradesh in the last league game. For the host, the return of a fit-again Gautam Gambhir is an added reason to be optimistic. Skipper Ishant Sharma has the resources but it remains to be seen how the team tackles an upbeat Andhra. It must be remembered that Andhra scored over teams like Mumbai and Tamil Nadu.

Read: Gambhir returns to Delhi squad

Baroda, riding a five-match winning streak runs into Saurashtra that got its act right only after successive defeats to Jammu & Kashmir and Hyderabad.

Overall, some even battles on cards this week.

Wednesday’s quarterfinals: Karnataka v Hyderabad (Ferozeshah Kotla ground); Mumbai v Maharashtra (Air Force ground, Palam).

Thursday’s quarterfinals: Delhi v Andhra Pradesh (Air Force ground, Palam); Baroda v Saurashtra (Ferozeshah Kotla ground).