Tamil Nadu's Dinesh Karthik is the leading run-scorer of the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy 2016-17 with 495 runs © IANS
Tamil Nadu’s Dinesh Karthik is the leading run-scorer of the ongoing Vijay Hazare Trophy 2016-17 with 495 runs © IANS

Finally, the 2017 edition of Vijay Hazare Trophy — India’s premier 50-over domestic tournament — has reached the concluding stage. After going through the zonal stage and the knockouts, we finally have two teams to compete for the title — Bengal and Tamil Nadu (TN). While Vijay Shankar-led TN overcame a strong Baroda in the first semi-final, Manoj Tiwary’s Bengal beat MS Dhoni’s Jharkhand in the second semi-final. After playing some consistent cricket throughout the tournament, both these teams thoroughly deserve to be in the final. Ahead of the summit clash, let us take a look at the likely playing XI for four-time winners TN and one-time champion Bengal: ALSO READ: Sourav Ganguly told us to bowl outside off to MS Dhoni: Manoj Tiwary

Top order: Both these teams look sorted as far as the top order is concerned. Bengal have solid opening combination in wicket-keeper batsman Shreevats Goswami and Abhimanyu Easwaran. Both the players cracked centuries in the semi-final against Jharkhand and set up their team’s win. With 471 runs from 8 games at 67.28 in this tournament, Easwaran is second on the list of highest run-getters. He also has two hundreds to show, and his side would want him to continue with his rich vein of form in the final. At No. 3, Bengal have 20-year-old Agniv Pan, who hit 37-ball 47 in the quarter-final against Maharashtra —his List A debut.

For TN, Kaushik Gandhi and Ganga Shridhar Raju will open the innings. Both these batsmen have had a decent run in the tournament and have played impactful innings. Following them at No. 3 will be Baba Aparajith, an integral part of the line-up.

Middle order:  Bengal will have skipper Tiwary, who is the backbone of this line-up, batting at No. 4. He, too, has had a splendid tournament thus far. He has accumulated runs at over 57. Sudip Chatterjee, Man of the Match in the quarter-final, and Anustup Majumdar, who enjoys his captain’s backing, will bat at No. 4 and 6. Another youngster, all-rounder Kanishk Seth, will play at No. 7. The 19-year-old left-arm pacer, who bats right-handed, made his List A debut in the tournament and has picked up 12 wickets so far from six games in addition to 42 runs in 4 innings.

TN have an equally fiery middle order, which consists of Dinesh Karthik at 4, skipper Vijay Shankar at 5 and Washington Sundar at 6. Karthik is the leading run-scorer of the ongoing tournament, with 495 runs from 8 games at 82.50. He will also keep wickets. Shankar and Sundar guided TN home in the semi-final with an unbroken 37-run, fifth-wicket stand. The side will need similar contribution from them in the final as well. Aparajith’s twin brother Baba Indrajith will take the No. 7 position in the line-up. Though he has had a quiet tournament so far, TN side will back one of their important players to come good in the crunch game.

Bowlers: On the bowling front, Bengal will rely on experienced trio of Mohammed Shami, Ashoke Dinda and Pragyan Ojha to lead the respective departments of pace and spin. Shami was declared fit to play the final on the eve of the match and will replace Sayan Ghosh in the XI. The trio will be assisted by off-spinning all-rounder Aamir Gani.

TN will continue to get the services of Aswin Crist, the leading wicket-taker in this edition of the tournament. Crist had a terrific Ranji Trophy 2016-17 season, where he finished with 35 wickets in 10 games. He has translated his form in limited-overs cricket as well with 18 wickets from the 8 games of the ongoing tournament. Assisting him will be all-rounder M Mohammed, who has had a good tournament both with the bat as well as ball. Left-arm spinners Rahil Shah and R Sai Kishore will complete the playing XI.

Likely XIs:

Bengal: Shreevats Goswami (wk), Abhimanyu Easwaran, Agniv Pan, Manoj Tiwary (c), Sudip Chatterjee, Anustup Majumdar, Kanishk Seth, Aamir Gani, Mohammed Shami, Ashoke Dinda, Pragyan Ojha.

Tamil Nadu: Kaushik Gandhi, Ganga Shridhar Raju, Baba Aparajith, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Vijay Shankar (c), Washington Sundar, Baba Indrajith, M Mohammed, Aswin Crist, Rahil Shah, R Sai Kishore.