Dharamsala: It will be a tough task for Harbhajan Singh-led North Zone when they take on Central Zone in the semifinal of the Deodhar Trophy at HPCA Stadium on Sunday.
Central Zone, who comprehensively defeated South Zone at Mohali in the quarterfinals, are considered a strong contenders to lift the Cup, although they would feel the absence of Suresh Raina and Parveen Kumar.
Central Zone will be looking to repeat their quarterfinal success, banking heavily on Mohammad Kaif, who scored a brilliant 50 off 58 balls in the last game.
Even captain Piyush Chawla, who hit a valuable 34 besides taking two wickets for 48 runs, is expected to come out with flying colours.
As far as bowling is concerned, the Central Zone look strong with medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Umesh Yadav in their ranks, apart from Chawla.
On the other hand, North Zone, having the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Paras Dogra, Rajat Bhatia, Gurkreet Singh and Rishi Dhawan, are all set to give a tough fight to the Central Zone.
Bowling department to be led by skipper Harbhajan should be well supported by Manpreet Gony, R Awana, Bipul Sharma and Harshal Patel. Pitch curator Sunil Chouhan said that the wicket would support the pacers if they keep their line and length intact.
"Basically it is a fast wicket, will be batsman friendly and hold up to full 100 overs," said Chouhan. The curator said that the outfield is also quick. "The quick bowlers can get movement in air for the first 10 overs of the match if it is a sunny day otherwise the period of movement can be stretched," he said.
The teams (from):
North Zone: Harbhajan Singh (capt), Mandeep Singh, Amitoz Singh, Gurkeerat Mann, Manpreet Gony, Bipul Sharma, P Awana, Rajat Bhatia, Shikhar Dhawan, Nitin Saini, H Patel, Sachin Rana, Paras Dogra, Rishi Dhawan and Yashpal Singh.
Central Zone: Piyush Chawla (capt), Naman Ojha, Ashish Yadav, Udit Birla, Robin Bisht, Shailender Gehlot, Mohd Kaif, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashok Maneria, Rameez Khan, Jalaj Saxena, Shivakant Shukla, T P Sudhindra and Umesh Yadav.