MS Dhoni will be the man in focus once again when he leads Jharkhand against Vidarbha in the Vijay Hazare Trophy quarterfinals at the Palam Ground in New Delhi on Wednesday.
Besides being Jharkhand’s unofficial mentor in the Ranji Trophy, Dhoni has been an active member of the Vijay Hazare squad, captaining the side in all the six matches so far.
His participation in the tournament has expectedly attracted a sizeable crowed wherever Jharkhand has played and it is going to be no different here tomorrow.
It could well turn out to be his last competitive game in the 50-over format ahead of the Champions Trophy in June, a tournament seen as an important one for the former India captain, who now plays only as a wicket-keeper batsman in the national side.
Dhoni, who hit the winning runs in the previous against J and K at Kalyani, has displayed decent form in the tournament, highlighted with a 129 against Chattisgarh at the Eden Gardens last month.
Leading against a consistent Vidarbha unit will be a challenge for Dhoni.
While Jharkhand finished second in Group D with fours win and two losses, Vidarbha topped Group A with five victories in six games.
Dhoni has been the cynosure of all eyes but the performances of his teammates have not gone unnoticed.
Senior batsman Saurabh Tiwary, who captained the side in the successful Ranji Trophy campaign, has been the team’s leading run scorer with 303 runs at a 60 plus average including two hundreds.
The star with the ball has again been left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem, who ended as the leading wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy. The others who have contributed with the ball are Rahul Shukla and leading pacer Varun Aaron.
For Vidarbha, the batsmen that stood out are opener Jitesh Sharma, who has accumulated 291 runs at 48.50, and Ganesh Satish, who has collected 259 runs at 51.80.
Captain Faiz Fazal would want to be back among the runs in the all important quarterfinal, having fallen cheaply in his last three innings.
Most impressive with the ball has been left-arm spinner Akshay Karnewar, who snared 15 wickets in the league stage at 13.20.