Vadodara: It will be a true test of batsmanship on a seaming track as Hrishikesh Kanitkar led Rajasthan take on hosts Baroda in the Ranji Trophy final which will start at the Motibagh ground on Tuesday.
At the start of the season, people would have laughed had anyone suggested about Rajasthan playing in the final of the Ranji Trophy.
However, Kanitkar and his sincere bunch of cricketers have done the unthinkable after 36 years.
From being considered as pushovers in the Plate Group, Rajasthan muscled their way outbatting heavyweights like Mumbai and Tamil Nadu in the quarterfinal and semi-final respectively as they set up a title date with Baroda.
Therefore when Kanitkar comes out for the toss along with Baroda counterpart Pinal Shah, it will be an achievement in itself.
It will be battle between the batsmen of the two sides.
If Rajasthan boasts of a batting line-up consisting of proven domestic heavyweights like Kanitkar, Aakash Chopra, Rashmi Ranjan Parida, Baroda aren`t far behind either as far as willow wielding is concerned.
They have a fantastic domestic level batsman in Ambati Rayudu. The locals like veteran Conor Williams, young Kedar Devdhar, skipper Shah will like to win back the coveted national title on their home turf.
After there was a lot of controversy surrounding the pitch at the Reliance Stadium, the final will be played at the Moti Bagh ground where Baroda has played most of their matches.
The pitch is known to help seamers and it will be interesting to note how Rajasthan new ball bowlers Pankaj Singh and Deepak Chahar make use of the early morning moisture that will be available.
"A lot has been made about the pitch for the semi-final match. I still maintain that it wasn`t a square turner as it was made out to be. If one applied himself, he would have got runs. It will be the same in the final at Moti Bagh. The team that will handle pressure better will come up trumps," said Baroda captain Pinal whose innings of 83 was the only half century in the semi-final match.
Asked about how they would handle Yusuf Pathan and Munaf Patel`s absence, he said,"We have learnt to live without Yusuf and Munaf. It`s good if we get them but we always keep in mind that they may be on national duty. So we are always ready with a back-up plan," the skipper said adding that they might just play an extra batsman.
The men to watch out for Baroda will be Rayudu (552 runs) and left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt (40 wickets). For Rajasthan Chopra (695 runs) and Kanitkar (672 runs) have proved that RCA officials were right in recruiting them as their guest players. Pankaj Singh (41 wickets) who has been brilliant throughout the season will definitely like to end on a high.