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    Syed Mushtaq Ali tourney to begin on Friday

    Mumbai: The knockout rounds of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament will commence with Karnataka taking on Baroda at the Brabourne Stadium here on Friday.

    Karnataka are led by Robin Uthappa, while Baroda are strengthened by the return of Pathan brothers - Irfan and Yusuf.

    The five-day event is expected to give many domestic players a chance to get into the groove ahead of next month's Indian Premier League. On the same day, Punjab will clash with Assam in another pre-quarter-final at the same venue.

    Uthappa, speaking ahead of his team's clash with Baroda, said considering the fickle nature of the Twenty20 format, it would be difficult to predict who will perform well in the event. "Someone who has got the rub of the green on that particular day is going to win. It's difficult to predict," Uthappa said.

    "We are at the fag end of what we call our domestic season. We have two months of IPL to go. It's a bit challenging for some of the cricketers as they play so much back-to-back cricket," Uthappa, who has been recalled into the Indian team for the one-off T20 game against South Africa on March 30 at Johannesburg, said.

    The Karnataka skipper felt the tournament was a good way to prepare for the April 4-May 27 IPL. "Just looking forward to enjoying this part of the season. The bigger picture is the IPL and a lot of cricketers are focusing on that and this is a good buildup towards the IPL. Most of us would like to get back the feel of Twenty20 cricket again...come out of 4-day cricket and one-day (50-over) cricket," he said.

    (With inputs from PTI)