Holders Karnataka face Tamil Nadu in Ranji Trophy final
Mumbai, March 7 - Come Sunday, two of India's domestic cricket powerhouses will clash in the five-day Ranji Trophy final in what promises to be an exciting match.
Defending champions Karnataka will be battling it out against their southern rivals Tamil Nadu at the Wankhede Stadium here.
Leading Tamil Nadu will be Abhinav Mukund, who scored 66 not out in the second innings of the semifinal against Maharastra. Tamil Nadu made it to the final riding on a first innings lead.
Tamil Nadu boast of a top class batting order, with several of the key batsmen in brilliant form of late. The likes of India Test opener Murali Vijay, discarded wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik and the brothers Baba Aparajith and Baba Indrajith are sure to send a chill down the opposition bowling ranks.
The Tamil Nadu bowling could sizzle too, with the likes of veteran Lakshmipathy Balaji and Aswin Crist spearheading the department. Crist played a crucial role in the semifinal with figures of 4/89 in the 1st innings. Vijay Shankar has the quality to give able support, coming in as the fourth seamer.
The title holders will look to continue their brilliant run just like in the semi-final where they clinched the contest against Mumbai by 112 runs.
The responsibility of getting a huge total on the scoreboard will once again be vested on the shoulders of Karnataka openers Robin Uthappa and Lokesh Rahul who returned cheaply in the second innings against Mumbai. The flamboyant Manish Pandey too will have a key role, holding the innings together in the middle order.
The Karnataka bowling will once again be spearheaded by R Vinay Kumar, who finished with figures of 6/20 when they bundled out Mumbai for 44 runs in the first innings. Abhimanyu Mithun and Sreenath Aravind will be the other fast bowlers sharing the cherry with Vinay Kumar.
Though Karnataka inflicted a heavy defeat of 285 runs when these two sides met in the first match of the tournament, the final could be a different ball game altogether.
The Wankhede pitch, known for assisting the bowlers will be tough to bat on, especially if the likes of Vinay and Balaji utilise the conditions.
But then again, both the teams comprise world class batsmen who have been known to battle it out well against good bowling attacks.