Qualifiers have title in sight | india | Hindustan Times
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Qualifiers have title in sight

The final round of the Subbiah Pillai Trophy (south-zone one-dayers), to be held here on Thursday, would be inconsequential in the sense as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have already booked both the qualification spots that were up for grabs for the All-India knockout tournament.

india Updated: Feb 15, 2006 22:42 IST

The final round of the Subbiah Pillai Trophy (south-zone one-dayers), to be held here on Thursday, would be inconsequential in the sense as Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have already booked both the qualification spots that were up for grabs for the All-India knockout tournament.

However, both Karnataka and TN, who face each other on Thursday, will go all out to win the zonal championship at the Gymkhana ground. Karnataka, who are leading the points tally with 19 points, including three bonus points, from four rounds, are determined to clinch the title they missed last year because of a loss to the eventual champions.

"It certainly won't be an inconsequential tie," Karnataka coach Jaswant said. "I agree that the excitement has reduced as the qualification spots have been finalised, but we want to return home as the south zone champions."

Karnataka's consistent performance over the past week has got much to do with all-rounder C Raghu's stupendous form. With two centuries and an unbeaten fifty, the 24-year-old has emerged as the player to watch out for.

However, Karnataka received a slight jolt when an ankle injury forced Raghu to bat with a runner for the latter half during his century against Andhra. Jaswant, however, clarified Raghu has regained his fitness. "Raghu is fully fit and will play tomorrow," he said. "But we are still not sure about whether first-choice wicket-keeper Thilak Naidu would be available or not." On the other hand, TN, who are the defending south zone and joint all-India champions, will have a lot of work to do in order to defend their crown. After a convincing win against Andhra on Tuesday, S Badrinath's team was involved in a lengthy team meeting on Wednesday evening. The team has lived up to its reputation of being the most balanced outfit in the fray and will try to stamp their superiority in the zone.

The batting, which includes stars like Hemang Badani, S Badrinath, S Sriram and Dinesh Kaarthick, has come good and despite the absence of key bowlers like L Balaji and R Jesuraj, G Vignesh and MR Shrinivas have done remarkably well.

Besides the feature match of the tournament, Kerala (10) and Andhra (8) face off in a battle for the third tournament. Hyderabad (-3) and Goa (-4) will take on each other in their last chance to register a win in the tournament.

As all the three matches will decide the final standings, it is likely that all the ties will be exciting in a meet, which has seen only one close game out of 12 matches played so far.