Rajkot: A humdinger is in the offing when 41-time champions Mumbai meet a high-on-confidence Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy semifinal on Saturday.
Both teams go into the key clash following exciting victories in the quarterfinals.
Tamil Nadu thrashed Karnataka at Visakhapatnam with the game wrapped up in two days while Mumbai dug deep to eke out a 30-run win against Hyderabad on the fifth and final day at Raipur.
Tamil Nadu's performance under new head coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar has been nothing short of commendable. The way they played against a star-studded Karnataka last week have taken their morale to the next level.
The two-time champions, who last got their hands on the Ranji Trophy 28 years ago, have reached this far without the services of star players Ravichandran Ashwin and Murali Vijay.
They outplayed Karnataka, a side that was boosted by the return of Lokesh Rahul and Karun Nair, who had earlier been on national duty.
Mumbai start favourites, simply because of their unmatched record in the competition, but they would have to pull out all stops against their South Indian opponents.
The two sides had also met in the group stage in October when Mumbai pulled off a two-wicket win with the match at Lahli ending within three days.
However, a lot has changed for Mumbai since that game in October. The Lahli game saw their premier pacer Dhawal Kulkarni take 10 wickets but he is now injured alongside regular opener Akhil Herwadkar and Shubham Ranjane.
They could have had the services of India regulars Ajinkya Rahane and Rohit Sharma but they are also recovering from injuries.
However, the fitness issues have given a chance to youngsters and a name that attracts instant attention is of 17-year-old Prtihvi Shaw.
Shaw is best known for his 546 off 330 in a Harris Shield match in November 2013. It was then the highest ever score in school cricket before his feat was surpassed by Pranav Dhanawade, who became the first player to score 1000 runs in an innings in January.
Mumbai's leading run scorer this season has been Shreyas Iyer with 553 runs at an average of 42.53. It has been a mixed run for the top-order batsman and he would be itching to make it count in the all-important semifinal.
The leading wicket-taker has been left-arm spinner Vijay Gohil with 24 wickets at 22.04. He, alongside Abhishek Nayar, secured a tight win against Hyderabad by picking up five-wicket hauls.
The defending champions would surely have to up their against Tamil Nadu.
It has been a revival of sorts for the team coached by Kanitkar and captained by seasoned batsman Abhinav Mukund.
Kanitkar is a man on mission after his retirement last year.
As a player, he led Rajasthan to glory in 2011-12 and is eager to get a title under his belt as a coach.
Their star performers with the bat have been Kaushik Gandhi and Mukund, with 726 and 689 runs respectively in nine matches.
The revelation has been their three-pronged pace attack comprising Aswin Crist, K Vignesh and T Natarajan, who have a cumulative experience of 38 First-Class games.