Mumbai look to cement quarterfinal berth
Bangalore: Hosts Karnataka and 40-time champions Mumbai will be hoping to cement their quaterfinal berths when the two teams meet each other in their penultimate Group A Ranji Trophy match beginning at KSCA Stadium here tomorrow.
Karnataka are presently leading the group with 26 points from six games, with Mumbai closely behind on 23 points from as many matches.
Cricket followers are in for an extravagant treat as both sides would not like to be holed up in a pressure-cooker like situation by conceding far too many points and create an headache for themselves.
And in their next match starting tomorrow, Karnataka, who have registered three consecutive outright victories, will be hoping to make life difficult star-studded Gujarat, who are number three with 20 points, and Delhi (19 points).
"We are table-toppers. They (Mumbai) are second. We don`t want to fritter away the chance. We have a very good bowling attack. There is a bit of grass on the wicket. It may help seamers for the first two days, then it will become a good batting track," Karnataka captain R Vinay Kumar said.
Mumbai skipper Wasim Jaffer said Karnataka are a good team having depth in their batting and bowling.
"This home side is similar to one which we played against in Mysore some years back. They have good batting and bowling line-up," he said.
With 612 runs under his belt, which includes a century and three half centuries, opener Lokesh Rahul has been the leading run-getter for Karnataka.
He, in company of Mayank Agarwal, would like to give a rollicking start to get hold of the match against Mumbai.
Agarwal, who had a great beginning to his Ranji career by cracking 90 runs at debut against Jharkhand, would love to get back the lost touch.
Manish Pandey, who stamped his class by hitting a sparkling century against Punjab in the last game, would also carry the sublime form into tomorrow`s match.
Pandey stole the show with his 161 which included 15 fours and three sixes after spending six-and-a-half hours on the crease, showing he has the penchant for long innings.
The form of Ganesh Satish and CM Gautam, in the middle-order, will not be a cause of concern for captain Vinay Kumar ahead of the crucial match.
Among their bowlers, pacers Abhimanyu Mithun and H S Sharath have been among wickets so far and would like to continue the good work.
Stuart Binny and spinner KP Appanna also have been among wickets.
Defending champion Mumbai, who drew with Odisha in the last game, on the other hand would look to seal their place in the quarterfinal stage with an outright victory.
After surviving anxious moments against minnows Jharkhand to eke out a draw, Mumbai put up a better show in their last home match against Odisha, where they nearly registered an innings victory.
"If we manage to get three points against Karnataka and if we win the game, nothing like it but it gives lot of confidence to the team going into the knockout stage.
Obviously, we will go in with a positive note," Jaffer said.
Mumbai would rely heavily on seasoned player Jaffer (503 runs) and wicketkeeper Aditya Tare (525 runs) to pile up a big total.
The holders must be a bit concerned over the poor form of opener Sushant Marathe.
"Aditya has scored 525 runs but other two openers have not come good. They are young and we need to back them," Jaffer said.
Hiken Shah would like to continue the form after striking a superb 170 runs in his last innings.
The visitng team`s bowling looks below par as Shardul Thakur (12 wickets) and Javed Khan (18 wickets) shone only in patches. But Mumbai has left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar, who is the top wicket-taker with 29 victims, in its ranks.