An in-form Uttar Pradesh will fancy their chances against Himachal Pradesh while Tamil Nadu face a stiff challenge against a resurgent Karnataka when two of the quarter-final matches of the Vijay Hazare Trophy are played on Tuesday.
While Himachal had made a direct entry to the quarterfinals, Uttar Pradesh secured a hard-fought five wicket win over Madhya Pradesh on Sunday to make the last-eight stage.
Likewise, Tamil Nadu stormed into the quarterfinals directly, while Karnataka outclassed Rajasthan to make the last eight of the national ODI championship.
Uttar Pradesh will rely on their experienced campaigner Akshdeep Nath, who played a vital role in the team’s win over MP. But, he would need support from his top-order colleagues — especially openers Madhav Kaushik and young wicket-keeper Aryan Juyal, skipper Karan Sharma and Sameer Rizvi.
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If all of them fire in unison, the Himachal bowlers will have a tough time. Another important cog in UP’s wheel is aggressive left-handed batter Rinku Singh, who took the side home against MP.
Their formidable bowling attack is led by ace India speedster Bhuvneshwar Kumar and includes Ankit Rajpoot, 24-year-old Yash Dayal and Shivam Mavi. Slow left-arm bowler Shivam Sharma will also be keen to play a part. UP are unlikely to tinker with their winning combination.
For Himachal, their biggest asset is skipper Rishi Dhawan, who is a bowling all-rounder and can contribute with both the bat and ball.
But Dhawan would need support from his top-order batters, which comprises wicket-keeper Shubham Arora, Prashant Chopra, Nikhil Gangta and left-handed Amit Thakur.
Left-arm orthodox spinner Mayank Dagar will play a key role for Himachal, along with skipper Dhawan.
While Uttar Pradesh will have the edge, they would not want to take Himachal lightly in what promises to be an interesting match.
Meanwhile, Karnataka would be confident after the eight-wicket thrashing of Rajasthan in the pre-quarters and would be keen to raise their game against arch-rivals TN, who too have been in good form in the tournament.
Karnataka have one of the best batting line-ups in the form of Ravikumar Samarth, Devdutt Padikkal, Krishnamurthy Siddharth, skipper Manish Pandey, Abhinav Manohar and Krishnappa Gowtham. This batting unit can take any attack apart and Tamil Nadu bowlers would be well aware of that.
Karnataka’s bowling attack, led by Prasidh Krishna, will have its task cut out against a strong TN batting line-up.
Tamil Nadu had beaten Karnataka in the league phase in Thiruvananthapuram and would be keen to do so again, albeit at a different venue and in different conditions.
Young batter B Sai Sudharsan, in his maiden season, has been a good addition at the top, and can score at a quick rate too.
Washington Sundar, on a comeback trail after an injury during the tour of England, has 12 wickets but would be expected to make substantial scores too and his role in the crunch game will be crucial.
Fellow spinners R Sai Kishore, M Siddharth and R Sanjay Yadav would be vital for Tamil Nadu’s chances.
Karnataka and Tamil Nadu have been involved in some thrilling contests in the past, including the recent Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy final in which Shahrukh Khan sealed the match for TN with a last ball six.
Tuesday’s winner could very well go all the way in the championship.
At KL Saini stadium: Tamil Nadu vs Karnataka (Starts 9 AM).
At Sawai Mansingh Stadium: Himachal vs Uttar Pradesh (Starts 9 AM).