© Getty Images (Representation photo)
South Zone will be missing all-rounder Stuart Binny, batsmen Karun Nair and Manish Pandey © Getty Images (Representation photo)

New Delhi: Oct 28, 2014

The Duleep Trophy cricket title clash starting Wednesday between Central Zone and South Zone will be an even but low profile affair at the Feroz Shah Kotla. In the semi-final, last edition’s joint champions South had thrashed East Zone while Central got the better of the North Zone featuring several India regulars.

Both Central and South travel to an usually slow Kotla wicket and considering that some of their top stars will be missing in action, they will have to rework their strategy and solve their combination puzzle smartly to put themselves in a strong position.

South Zone will be missing all-rounder Stuart Binny, batsmen Karun Nair and Manish Pandey while Central will be without spinners Karn Sharma and Kuldeep Yadav.

At the Kotla, with key players missing in action both the teams’ strengths and weaknesses have been evened out.

Still, the southern side comprises some of the most exciting batsmen in veteran wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik, India discards Abhinav Mukund and Robin Uthappa. Opener Lokesh Rahul, young middle order batsmen Baba Aparajith and Ramaswamy Prasanna will also look to leave their mark in the finale of the season-starting tournament. Hyderabad batsmen Hanuma Vihari and D. Ravi Teja might also get a chance to express themselves.

The bowling department includes Karnataka seam trio of skipper R. Vinay Kumar, H.S. Sharath and Abhimanyu Mithun. The only specialist spinner expected to be in the side is left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who will be eager to leave behind the controversies that had cropped up due to his action.

In the Southern camp, in-form wicketkeeper-batsman Naman Ojha, Jalaj Saxena, Ashok Menaria, Robin Bist and another glovesman Mahesh Rawat will be under pressure to do the bulk of scoring.

Lately, Naman has been in good form and had scores of 219 not out and 101 not out, 110 – all for India A against Australia A – and 217 and 40 for Central Zone against North Zone. In his last three first class matches he had scored 687 runs at an average of 229.

With Wriddhiman Saha yet to be declared fit for the upcoming One-Day International (ODI) series against Sri Lanka, the Madhya Pradesh glovesman will certainly like to draw the national selectors’ attention with another flying knock. In the bowling department, a lot will depend on the 25-year-old leg-spinner Piyush Chawla, who is also looking to make his return to the big stage ahead of the World Cup 2015.

The Central bowling attack also comprises medium pacers Pankaj Singh, Ishwar Pandey and Railways pacer Anureet Singh, who will have to work hard to be a threat.