A man who will not be seen in action over the next five days may prove to be a deciding factor in the Ranji Trophy final. “Minus Rahul Dravid (away on national duty), I’d say it is 50:50,” said Delhi coach Vijay Dahiya. “Otherwise, I would have said the final was 70:30 in Karnataka’s favour.”
Pankaj Dharmani, Punjab captain, had similar views. “It means Mumbai have the advantage.” Delhi and Punjab are the only teams to have played both the finalists this season.
In the group stage, Dravid’s first innings 78 placed Karnataka on the brink of victory against Delhi, before bad light halted their charge. Karnataka beat Punjab on first innings lead in the quarterfinals without a huge contribution from Dravid.
Dharmani is not convinced that Karnataka’s youngsters can outbat Wasim Jaffer and Co.
Dahiya pointed to the presence of “quality all-rounders” in Mumbai, which has enabled them to bat Abhishek Nayar at No. 5 followed by Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar and Iqbal Abdullah. “For Karnataka, Robin Uthappa will be key,” Dahiya said. Dharmani said on “hard, bouncy wicket”, medium-pacers would flourish. “Both teams have good attack, but Mumbai is more experienced.”