BENGALURU: In the group stages of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Karnataka were missing some of their key players due to India and India A commitments. Despite two losses, they qualified for the knockout stages. However, the return of Devdutt Padikkal (in pic), Prasidh Krishna and Krishnappa Gotham into the squad for the knockout stages is a welcome sign. The strengthened Karnataka unit will face Rajasthan in the pre quarterfinals at KL Saini Ground in Jaipur on Sunday.
The trio not only brings in experience, but adds quality in both the batting and bowling department. Padikkal will open with Ravikumar Samarth, who has been in good form, scoring 243 runs so far. Captain Manish Pandey has been in fine touch too, with 218 runs under his belt. The inclusion of Padikkal will strengthen their batting at the top and more importantly, the southpaw has it in him to score runs at a fair clip against the new ball too.
With the pitches in Thiruvananthapuram having proved to be tough to score quick runs, Karnataka will expect Samarth and Padikkal to help the team get off to some solid starts provided the pitch assists them in Jaipur. If they can get their last season form, where the former hit three tons and latter four, Pandey and co will be in a strong position. However, they will need the middle order comprising Karun Nair and Srinivas Samarth to deliver with the bat too.
“Me and him (Padikkal) together, we had a great run last year. Between us, we got seven hundreds. It did go well, and hopefully it does go well in the knockout stages here too,” said Samarth. “The wickets there (in Thiruvananthapuram) were completely different. You cannot compare the wickets there to what it might be here. We will get to know how the wicket plays tomorrow only. We have not seen the wicket here also, and we will have a better clarity as to how we will go about things in the next game.”
Also, the team management will take a sigh of relief with the inclusion of Prasidh else the pace unit lacked experience. Also, with Gowtham, he brings in his wicket-taking ability with his off-spin and is also more than handy with the bat in the lower order.
“They will be in the top mindset after having been with the India teams and now coming back for Karnataka to give their best. Hopefully, the same mindset and confidence is there and good performances will also come through. With it being a knockout stage, their experience should come good for us. I am sure that the youngsters will have a lot to learn from as well,” said Samarth.
But, Karnataka cannot afford to take Rajasthan lightly as they topped Elite Group E after victories over teams like Punjab in the knockout stages. Rajasthan will depend on their inform players, including pacer Aniket Choudhary and batter Abhijeet Tomar to shine against Pandey’s men.
Eyes on Venkatesh
When Madhya Pradesh faces Uttar Pradesh in the other pre quarterfinal, all eyes will be on the former’s Venkatesh Iyer, who has scored two hundreds in the competition so far. His performance could prove to play an important role in determining the team’s result. In the other match of the day, Vidarbha will meet Tripura.
Karnataka vs Rajasthan
Madhya Pradesh vs Uttar Pradesh
Vidarbha vs Tripura