Vadodara: Baroda would be banking heavily on Pathan brothers -- captain Yusuf and Irfan -- to upstage Karnataka in their opening four-day Ranji Trophy match beginning from Thursday.
The game is of tremendous significance for the Pathan brothers. While Yusuf would be desperate to answer his critics after a forgetable last season, Irfan would be hoping to carry on his recent good form to secure a berth in the Indian Test squad for the upcming four-Test series against England.
Known for his hard-hitting batting, Yusuf`s temperament will be tested to the maximum as he has been entrusted with the responsibility of captaining Baroda this season.
The selection committee of Baroda Cricket Association (BCA) decided to name Yusuf as the skipper after an unimpressive performance of the team under Pinal Shah last season.
Playing on their home turf, Baroda, however, will enjoy slight edge over Karnataka in the game.
Middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu has been named as Yusuf`s deputy.
However, the task won`t be easy for Yusuf as he will miss the services of experienced pacer Munaf Patel, who is out with a leg injury.
In Munaf`s absence the onus would be on Yusuf`s brother Irfan to lead Baroda pace attack against Karnataka.
Irfan, who is enjoying a purple patch off late, is key to Baroda`s success in the match as he will play a vital role not only with the ball but with the willow as well. Keeping in mind the pacer-friendly pitch of the Motibag ground here, BCA selectors have picked up as many as five seamers in the squad.
Baroda team comprises of five batsmen, five full-time seamers, two full-time spinners and two all-rounders.
Baroda also has a debutant in Sagar Mangalorkar, who is a medium fast bowler.
On the other hand, Karnataka, lead by medium pacer R Vinay Kumar, will depend on young Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa and Ganesh Satish to deliver the goods in the batting department.
Karnataka`s bowling unit will be lead by skipper Vinay Kumar and will also feature Abhimanyu Mithun and left-arm spinner KP Appanna.
Baroda: Yusuf Pathan (captain), Ambati Rayudu, Aditya Waghmode, Rakesh Solanki, Ketan Panchal, Irfan Pathan, Pinal Shah (wicket-keeper), Abhimanyu Chauhan, Firdos Bhaja, Gagandeep Singh Natt, Sankalp Vohra, Bhargav Bhatt, Sagar Mangalorkar, Utkarsh Patel, Kedar Devdhar.
Karnataka: R Vinay Kumar (captain), Robin Uthappa, KB Pawan, Ganesh Satish, Manish Pandey, Amit Verma, Stuart Binny, Muralidharen Gautham (wicket-keeper), Sunil Raju, Abhimanyu Mithun, KP Appanna, Kunal Kapoor, Lokesh Rahul, Ronit More, Syed Khaja Moinuddin.