Mumbai: Table toppers Mumbai, beefed up by the availability of key batsman Rohit Sharma, take on fourth-placed Uttar Pradesh in a Group B Ranji Trophy game at the Wankhede Stadium here from tomorrow.
The visitors too have been strenghthened by the inclusion of left-handed batsman Suresh Raina, who would also lead the side, and swing bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar, released from the Indian first Test squad to play the game.
As a result, the contest between the two well-balanced sides is expected to be very interesting.
While Mumbai had a rest in the last round of games, UP trounced Gujarat at Valsad by 155 runs in a low-scoring match, with India discard Praveen Kumar grabbing a five-wicket heist in the first innings, and left arm slow bowler Saurabh Kumar finishing with a ten-wicket haul.
Mumbai's batting is far stronger than Gujarat's but would be tested by the UP attack that also includes yet another India discard, leg spinner Piyush Chawla, speedster Ankeet Rajpur and Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav.
Raina expected the contest to be fierce.
"UP and Mumbai have always producted exciting contests. We have won our last two games outright. We have four games left and are very positive. Both teams have good balance," said Raina, who also said he had scored a hundred and 80 when he last played in a Mumbai-UP game.
Mumbai, with 17 points in their kitty after two outright wins from four games as comapred to UP's 13 from the same number of matches, have a strong batting order with skipper Aditya Tare, Shreyas Iyer, Suryakumar Yadav and Siddharth Lad complementing Rohit Sharma.
The in-form Shardul Thakur, who gave an impressive show against the visiting South Africans in a tour game with a four-wicket haul recently, senior new ball partner Dhawal Kulkarni, and Balwinder Sandhu would test the UP top order.
Left arm spinner Vishal Dhabolkar has also been in the thick of action, having bagged 14 wickets - same as Thakur.
In Raina's absence in the first few games, Mohammed Saif, Almas Shaukat and Chawla - lower down - got the bulk of runs for UP.