Old rivals Maharashtra and Karnataka will square-off in the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy in Indore on Thursday after both teams stayed unbeaten in the Super League stage.
Both teams won all their four games, and will be vying to lay their hands on the trophy.
For Maharashtra, this has been a collective effort rather than individual brilliance. Someone like a ‘ever-reliable’ Ankit Bawne, an aggressive wicket-keeper-batsman Nikhil Naik or an all-rounder Naushad Shaikh have chipped in with their noteworthy performances when the side needed the most in the tournament.
Naik shone with the bat against Railways, his unbeaten 95 playing a crucial role in the team’s 21-run win.
If Maharashtra have to tame the famed Karnataka bowling line-up, which has quality bowlers, then one of these players will have to bat deep and rise to the occasion.
Maharashtra’s bowling is led by inform left arm-medium pacer Samad Fallah along with senior pacer DJ Muthuswami. Left-arm orthodox bowler Satyajeet Bachhav is in good form too.
Bawne said that his team was performing as a unit and was excited for the summit clash.
“We are playing great as a team and performing as a unit brilliantly. The team is very excited for the final, we all want to give our best on the day and bring the trophy to Pune,” Bawne told PTI.
Maharashtra coach Surendra Bhave remarked that all his players were in form.
“We would like to give (our) best shot. All our eleven players are in form and we have shown some great team spirit in this tournament and we would like to continue like for one more day,” the coach said ahead of the summit clash, which will be played at the Holkar Stadium under lights.
But Karnataka, which has a star-studded batting line up with the likes of Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and Manish Pandey, surely won’t be an easy opponent. Pandey, who was a surprise inclusion in the BCCI Central Contracts list, has led from the front with the captain hitting an unbeaten 49 in 35 balls against Vidarbha, which was a match-winning effort.
Add to it the likes of BR Sharath and in-form opener Rohan Kadam, Karnataka batsmen can take the Maharashtra attack to cleansers on their day.
Karnataka’s win over Vidarbha in their final Super League fixture was their 13th consecutive victory in T20s - a new record for an Indian state team, reported ESPNCricinfo.
On the bowling front, R Vinay Kumar is among wickets. Another right-arm medium pacer V Koushik has come up the ranks and his spell in the middle overs would also play a vital role.
Both the teams have been bereft of a major domestic title in the recent past and have an opportunity to finish the season on a high after failing to do well in Vijay Hazare Trophy (50-over format) and the Ranji Trophy.
Match starts at 5.30 PM.
(With PTI inputs)