Shahrukh Khan’s brute power will be countered by the experience and guile of Chahar brothers Deepak and Rahul, when Tamil Nadu lock horns with Rajasthan in the semi-final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy on Friday.
With the IPL auction set for February 18, players from both sides would want to grab the opportunity to impress the scouts of various teams like Shahrukh did against Himachal Pradesh during Tamil Nadu’s quarter-final victory.
Rajasthan on the other hand have been a steady side with a host of young T20 specialists like Mahipal Lomror (170 runs at strike rate of 165) in batting and Chahar along with last IPL’s find Ravi Bishnoi and left-armers Khaleel Ahmed and Aniket Chaudhary in the bowling department.
Rajasthan’s top-scorer in the tournament is Ankit Lamba (198 runs) but he would like to improve on his strike-rate. Rajasthan will however depend on their premier leg-spinner Rahul Chahar (11 wickets) who has been named as a standby for the England series.
Similarly for Tamil Nadu, their top run-scorer N Jagadeesan (322 runs) would feel that he might have done enough to ensure that Mahendra Singh Dhoni gives him regular chances for CSK in the upcoming IPL.
Skipper Dinesh Karthik, who is certainly Tamil Nadu’s most senior player, has had a quiet season and will be keen to step up on the big stage. Even the others batsmen like C Hari Nishanth, the ever-reliable Baba Aparajith and KB Arun Karthik will be more than keen to make an impact against a quality Rajasthan attack.
In the bowling department, leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin and left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore have been quite a handful but it is Baba Aparajith who has been the surprise package, taking the new ball and enjoying a great degree of success too.
The trio will be keen to play their roles to perfection and aid the pacers Mohammed Mohammed and Aswin Crist in the absence of Sandeep Warrier, who has been picked as a net bowler for the England Tests.
Meanehile, Punjab’s veteran pacers Siddarth Kaul and Sandeep Sharma will pose a few questions in the semi-final for Baroda’s Vishnu Solanki, who has won many fans with a perfect last-ball execution of the ‘Helicopter Shot’ during his team’s thrilling quarter-final win against Haryana.
Kaul, Sandeep and Arshdeep Singh, along with leg-spinner Mayank Markande have been outstanding throughout the tournament with economy-rates of less than seven runs per over.
Baroda would want their pacers Lukman Meriwala and former India U-19 player Atith Sheth to rattle the Punjab top-order and their left-arm spinners Bhargav Bhatt, Ninad Rathwa and off-spinner Kartik Kakade will also be crucial.
But when it comes to their batting, a lot will depend on skipper Kedar Devdhar and Solanki, who have bailed out the team more than once in the tournament.
Tamil Nadu vs Rajasthan – 12 PM.
Punjab vs Baroda – 7 PM.