Munaf Patel will look to make his mark for Baroda in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy final against Uttar Pradesh © Getty Images
Mumbai: Apr 13, 2014
It will be a battle of equals when Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Baroda clash in the final of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 (T20) tournament at the Wankhede stadium.
The two teams had entered the title round by topping their respective groups A and B in similar fashion, by virtue of finishing with the best net run rate in their pools after finishing level on points with another team.
While UP edged out Goa in Rajkot, Baroda stuttered against Kerala in final game and went through on superior Net Run Rate (NRR).
Both Uttar Pradesh and Baroda appear to be evenly matched, having won all their zonal ties to make it to the knockout stage. Baroda could enjoy a slight advantage, having played in these conditions in their zonal leg as well as the knock-out stages.
Baroda’s seven-match winning streak in the tournament was snapped by Kerala and they would be hoping that the loss was just an aberration. The west-zone champions have relied mostly on the bowlers to secure wins in the tournament.
Left-arm medium pacer Lukman Meriwala is the leading wicket taker in the tournament, with 18 scalps, including a five-for against Delhi. The 22-year-old has picked up a wicket in each match and skipper Aditya Waghmode will be relying on his expertise.
Left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya and left-arm medium pacer Hardik Pandya have also proved their mettle. Besides, they have an experienced campaigner in Munaf Patel who bowled a tight first spell against Kerala before giving away 19 runs in his last over.
Baroda’s batting has not revolved around a lone person but it has been more of a team effort with one-player taking them across the line, though the team depends a lot on the opening combine of captain Waghmode and Kedhar Devdhar.
Barring their loss against defending champions Gujarat in the knock-out round, Uttar Pradesh too have proved to be a formidable side.
Openers Mukul Dagar and Prashant Gupta have been in good touch in the tournament. Dagar has been the highest run scorer for the side, while the latter – who smashed his maiden T20 century in the previous game against Haryana — would look to continue in the same vein.
Left-arm spinners Ali Murtaza and Praveen Gupta have been among the wickets.
The pace attack looks a bit weak despite the presence of swing bowler Praveen Kumar. The temperamental India discard hasn’t had much to show in the wickets column in the previous games.
UP would hope he comes good at the all-important match that brings down curtains on the domestic cricket season before Indian Premier League (IPL), especially on a track that has sported ample bounce and seam movement.