Tournament kicks off with Central meeting South Zone | india | Hindustan Times
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Tournament kicks off with Central meeting South Zone

After the BCCI's formal announcement that India's tour to Pakistan was off, the participation of several internationals in the Ranji Trophy had raised hopes of domestic cricket getting a fillip, reports G Krishnan.

india Updated: Jan 22, 2009 00:11 IST
G Krishnan

After the BCCI's formal announcement that India's tour to Pakistan was off, the participation of several internationals in the Ranji Trophy had raised hopes of domestic cricket getting a fillip.

In this light, the Duleep Trophy, which enters its 48th edition on Thursday, too assumed importance. But the announcement of India's short tour to Sri Lanka means that quite a few of the big names would be giving their zones a miss.

Despite this, the interest in the four-day quarterfinal between South and Central Zone at the Chinnaswamy Stadium remains intact.

Unlike the last five seasons, where there was a sixth team (from abroad) in the league-cum-knockout format, the tournament this year will be played on a knockout basis.

South Zone are keen to end a 12-season title drought and the presence of captain V.V.S. Laxman and Rahul Dravid places them as favourites for the title.

Dominated by players from Uttar Pradesh, Central Zone have players who are young and hungry to perform at this level. The two sides had finished at the bottom of their groups last year. Laxman and his counterpart Mohammad Kaif threw their weight behind five-day matches. "A five-day game gives bowlers an opportunity to take 20 wickets. It tests your skills. In a four-day match, the first innings lead comes into play and that's not fair," said Kaif.

The winner of this contest will take on defending champions North in the semifinals at Rajkot from January 29 while runners-up West will take on East at Mumbai on the same dates.

Teams (from): South Zone: V.V.S. Laxman (capt), S. Badrinath, A Mukund, R Uthappa, R Dravid, D Karthik, A Yadav, R. Ashwin, S Jakati, L. Balaji, S. Sreesanth, R. V Kumar, S Bandekar, M. Suresh and S. Anoop Pai. Central Zone: M Kaif (capt), S Shukla, T Srivastava, P Chawla, P Singh, M Karthik, Y Goud, J Saxena, N Ojha, U Yadav, F Fazal, P Singh, B Kumar, R Bisht and A Singh.