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Vijay Hazare Trophy: Maharashtra gear up for tough Karnataka battle

On paper, Karnataka’s batting line-up comprising Karun Nair, Mayank Agarwal and R Samarth can put any bowling line-up under pressure but Maharashtra’s bowling attack has performed well in the Vijay Hazare Trophy this year.

cricket Updated: Feb 23, 2018 20:47 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, New Delhi
Vijay Hazare Trophy,Mayank Agarwal,Karun Nair
Mayank Agarwal, who scored a century in the quarterfinal against Hyderabad, will look to continue his good form when Karnataka take on Maharashtra in the first semi-final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy on Saturday. (HT Photo )

Karnataka have fluffed their lines during key moments this season and Maharashtra will be eager to cash in on it during their semi-final clash of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, on Saturday.

On paper, a batting line-up comprising Karun Nair (209 runs), Mayank Agarwal, (552 runs), Ravikumar Samarth (296 runs) and Stuart Binny can put any bowling line-up under pressure but Maharashtra’s little-known bowling attack has performed like a well-oiled machine throughout the tournament.

Maharashtra have been very impressive from the start of the tournament topping the group league phase with 18 points and outplayed domestic giants Mumbai in the quarter-final with minimum fuss.

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The current form of Maharashtra gives them hope that they can be the proverbial David with a good chance of slaying the Goliath.

“Ours has been a combined team effort. If you see, our team does not have any clear match winner like a Mayank Agarwal or Karun Nair, yet everyone has performed to their potential,” Maharashtra captain Rahul Tripathi said after training session.

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The key to Maharashtra’s good show has been their top-order which has performed admirably. Opener Ruturaj Gaikwad (329 runs), Tripathi (234), Ankit Bawne (288) and Naushad Sheikh (247 runs) have all chipped in.

Not to forget all-rounder Shrikant Mundhe’s match-winning 70 in the quarters apart from 10 wickets.

However, it is their spinner Satyajeet Bacchav (9 wickets at an economy rate of 4.27), who has been a major factor, stopping the run flow in middle overs. Rookie off-spinner Prashant Kore did well against Mumbai on debut while seamer Pradeep Dadhe (8 wickets) has provided opening breakthroughs.

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Tripathi as usual spoke about relying on the “process rather than thinking about opposition.”

For Maharashtra, the biggest challenge will be to get rid of Agarwal and Samarth, who added 242 runs for the second wicket against Hyderabad.

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Having scored 1000 plus runs in Ranji Trophy, Agarwal has continued his sublime form in the shorter format with 552 runs to his credit.

He is certainly a contender for the second string Indian team that is expected to take part in the Nidahas Trophy.

“We have had a good season but it is only about certain moments where we have not done well,” Nair has been spot on about season’s assessment.

First Published: Feb 23, 2018 20:47 IST