UP have won all their matches in the tournament so far © Getty Images (Representational Image)
UP have won all their matches in the tournament so far © Getty Images (Representational Image)

Mumbai: With their superior all-round strength, Baroda appear to hold a slight edge over unbeaten Uttar Pradesh and seem well-poised to grab their third Mushtaq Ali Trophy when the two teams clash under lights in the final of the domestic T20 competition here tomorrow. Baroda have lost two games out of 9 in the competition – to Delhi in the Preliminary League stage and then to Kerala in the Super League – this season, while UP have won all their 8 matches thus far. But man-to-man Baroda seem to hold the advantage over their rivals, in both batting and bowling, in the summit contest at the Wankhede Stadium. READ: Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2015-16: Baroda face Uttar Pradesh in tournament final

All rounders Hardik Pandya, who will leave for Australia on January 22 to join the Indian team ahead of the T20 series Down Under, and India discard Irfan Pathan, the team skipper, have been in the forefront of Baroda’s campaign.

Pandya has shone more with the bat, amassing 364 runs including two whirlwind, six-hitting knocks against Delhi and Vidarbha, while also grabbing nine wickets in nine games. Left-handed Pathan, on the other hand, has impressed more with the ball by grabbing 16 wickets in nine games in which he has totalled 190 runs.

Both these players have been crucial to the progress of Baroda who, however, would expect a bit more from two other all-rounders — Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan. Both have failed to prosper so far.

Baroda, champions in 2011-12 and 2013-14, also have a capable spinner in Bhargav Bhatt, and give the appearance of a well-balanced outfit. UP’s batting has been a bit inconsistent with Eklavya Dwivedi being the most impressive of the lot with an aggregate of 258 runs in 8 games at 64 per innings.

Prashant Gupta and Samarth Singh have been the other two batsmen among the runs, but the big disappointment has been Australia-bound T20 specialist Suresh Raina who has made just 111 runs in five games with 28 as his highest.

The left-hander will be required to fire big if UP, who have never won the title, are to upset Baroda’s bid to regain the trophy after the gap of one season. In bowling, while experienced former India leg-spinner Piyush Chawla has been the stand-out performer (15 wickets in 8 games), the crafty Praveen Kumar (5 wickets in 7), another national discard, has not done as much as was expected.

Praveen has been outshone by Ankit Rajpoot (11 wickets in 8). UP would thus be hoping that their misfiring key players – Raina and Praveen – have reserved their best for the tournament finale that commences at 6:30 PM.