BENGALURU : After more than three weeks of action in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, the eight quarterfinalists have been decided. Karnataka, Delhi, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and Mumbai have are in from combined Groups A and B. Tamil Nadu and Gujarat qualified from Group C. Plate group leaders Pondicherry are the eighth. Nothing came easy. The initial phase was plagued by rain. Group B was the worst hit, with the first 20 matches in Vadodara having no result. Matches in Group A and Plate Division were also hit. Fixtures had to be rearranged to ensure teams get more matches. Group C matches, in Jaipur, were the only exception.
Despite the reschedule, teams like Mumbai suffered two no-results. They were only guaranteed a quarterfinal slot after Uttar Pradesh lost to Haryana on Thursday, the final day of the league stage. Though UP and Mumbai were level at 20 points, better net run rate saved them. The competition was so tough in the combined table that only two points separated the second and the sixth team. Delhi, Punjab and Chhattisgarh finished with 22 points each.
“We dropped points against Hyderabad and Andhra Pradesh due to rain. We had a good chance to beat them if we’d played. Also, the situation would not have come to us depending on other results,” Mumbai coach Vinayak Sawant told this newspaper. If Mumbai finished fifth in the combined table with four wins, Karnataka dominated proceedings with seven wins in eight matches. However, Tamil Nadu, who were one of the big disappointments last season, turned tables this time, winning all nine matches to top their pool. Pondicherry are the only other team to remain unbeaten in league stage.
Chhattisgarh, who finished fourth in combined table, are one of the surprises. With other strong teams in the pool, they exceeded expectations. They also defeated Mumbai. If Chhattisgarh surprised everyone, Andhra were at the opposite end. After impressive performances over the last couple of seasons, last season’s quarterfinalists managed only one win out of eight.
Ranji champions Saurashtra also fell in the same category, with five losses in eight matches. After being promoted to Group C from Plate, Bihar did not win a single game. Quarterfinals (Bengaluru): Oct 20: Karnataka vs Pondicherry @ Chinnaswamy; Delhi vs Gujarat @ Just Cricket. Oct 21: Punjab vs Tamil Nadu @ Alur Cricket Ground (1); Chhattisgarh vs Mumbai @ Alur Cricket Ground (2). Source: BCCI website.