Assam, Maharashtra, Saurashtra, and Karnataka have secured the last-four spots in the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy and the four teams will battle it out for a spot in the final of India’s premier List A tournament. After hard-fought quarters, the teams would now look to give their all in the semis clash which gets underway in Ahmedabad on Wednesday.
The ever-consistent Karnataka and Saurashtra are joined by hungry underdogs Assam and Maharashtra, who have been scoring heavily this season and have managed to post a total in excess of 300 on five occasions.
The last time Assam reached the final of this tournament was back in the 2012-13 season when they lost to Delhi in the title clash. Maharashtra on the other hand would be looking to enter their first-ever final. Karnataka are the second most successful side in the history of the competition with four titles and Saurashtra have won the title once. Two mouth-watering contests are in store as the four most successful sides this year prepare to give it all for a spot in the final.
Very formidable Karnataka: Karnataka squad, at least on paper, wears a very formidable look as they have the services of Mayank Agarwal, Manish Pandey, R Samarth, Shreyas Gopal, and K Gowtham. All of these have been part of the Indian set-up and have a lot of experience on their side for these knockout fixtures. With the bat, Nikkin Jose and R Samarth have been very consistent and the inexperienced bowling attack comprising of V Kousik, V Kaverappa, and led by Ronit More, have done a very effective job.
On-song Gaikwad, Maharashtra: Ruturaj Gaikwad’s double hundred in the quarter-final against a very potent UP attack was a perfect dose of caution and aggression. While the right-hander was very watchful when there was something in it for the bowlers, did get a life when he was dropped close to fifty but exploded, and how, in the second half of the innings which also saw him collect 43 runs from the 49th over. Along with Gaikwad, in-form Rahul Tripathi and Ankit Bawne have done the bulk of the scoring for Maharashtra this season. The side has posted totals in excess of 300 five times this season and have the bite in bowling to match the batting might. Mukesh Choudhary with the new ball and Rajvardhan Hangrekar in the middle overs have been very effective for them and they would look to repeat the drill against Assam on Wednesday.
Consistent Parag: Assam and Riyan Parag have been the story of the tournament. They bossed the group stages of the tournament where they beat the likes of Karnataka, Vidarbha, and Delhi convincingly and outclassed Jammu & Kashmir in the high-scoring quarterfinal. Chasing 350, Assam, riding high on Parag’s 116-ball 174, overhauled the target with 23 balls to spare. With both bat and ball, Parag (537 runs and 9 wickets) has been the star for Assam and has had able support from the likes of Sibsankar Roy (289 runs in seven innings), Rishav Das (213 runs in four innings), Avinov Choudhury (13 wickets) and Mukhtar Hussain (11 wickets).
The effective Saurashtra unit: Year after year, season after season, tournament after tournament Saurashtra continue to find their way into the knockout stages of domestic competitions. Samarth Vyas (398 runs) and Harvik Desai (390 runs) have done the job with the bat and the bowling unit has shown a lot of consistency. Led by J Unadkat is again among the wickets (14) and he has been ably supported by D Jadeja (15 wickets), Chetan Sakariya (12 wickets), and Parth Bhut (10 wickets). Vyas has been the find of the season for the Saurashtra unit as the right-hander has scored at a brisk clip right from the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy where he scored 314 runs in seven innings at a strike rate of 177.40.
* Karnataka’s V Koushik (17 wickets) and V Kaverappa (16 wickets) have a chance to overtake Kuldeep Sen (18 wickets) in the leading wicket-takers list
* While N Jagadeesan (830 runs) is a fair distance away, Riyan Parag (537 runs) and Rahul Tripathi (521 runs) have a fair chance to occupy the second spot, occupied by Sai Sudarshan (610 runs) in the leading run-getters list
* Riyan Parag’s all three List A hundreds have come in this season
* D Jadeja’s 7/10 continue to be the best bowling figures in the tournament this season
Maharashtra vs Assam
Saurashtra vs Karnataka