Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament to kick off from Friday

Robin Uthappa said he was happy to be playing at the CCI AFP

Mumbai: Mar 22, 2012

The knock out rounds of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Cricket tournament commencing from Friday would be a good way for many domestic players to get into the groove for the slam-bang variety of the game ahead of next month’s Indian Premier League.

Karnataka, led by lusty-hitting batsman Robin Uthappa, will take on Baroda, strengthened by the return of Pathan brothers – Irfan and Yusuf – in the opening game of the 10-match tournament at the Brabourne Stadium to kick start the five-day event.

On the same day, Punjab are to clash with Assam in the afternoon in another prequarter final at the same venue.

Uthappa, speaking ahead of his team’s clash with Baroda, described the fickle nature of the Twenty20 format and said it would be difficult to predict who will perform well in the event.

“Someone who has got the rub of the green on that particular day is going to win. It’s difficult to predict,” said Uthappa.

“We are at the fag end of what we call our domestic season. We have two months of IPL to go. It’s a bit challenging for some of the cricketers as they play so much back to back cricket,” said Uthappa who has been recalled into the Indian team for the one-off T20 game against South Africa on March 30 at Johannesburg.

The Karnataka skipper felt the tournament was a good way to prepare for the April 4-May 27 IPL.

“I am just looking forward to enjoying this part of the season. The bigger picture is the IPL and a lot of cricketers are focusing on that and this is a good build up towards the IPL. Most of us would like to get back the feel of the Twenty20 cricket again…come out of 4-day cricket and one-day (50-over) cricket,” he said.

Karnataka will miss the services of two key bowlers – medium pacers Vinay Kumar and left-arm R Aravind, but Uthappa said Ronit More is a good find for his team who should do well in tandem with the experienced Abhimanyu Mithun.

“Vinay (Kumar) has got a slight niggle while Aravind is recovering from a knee injury. He’s just back into bowling and should be fit in a couple of weeks.

“We have a couple of exciting players. Bharat Chipli is back in the side. Ronit More, a right arm fast bowler, is a new find…an exciting fast bowler who bowls real quick. We also have Mithun,” said Uthappa.

“We have got the ability to find new fast bowlers. It’s good to have these fast bowlers coming through. We spot bowlers quickly from rural areas which is pretty untouched. We blood them, bring them to Bangalore and start working on them.

“The guys in Karnataka are very patriotic towards their state. That’s one of the reasons we find good fast bowlers.

Some of the T20 talent we have here have been found from that tournament (Karnataka Premier League), but it s still in the initial stages,” he explained.

Uthappa was happy to be playing at the Cricket Club of India, and said he enjoyed playing on such true surfaces as the Brabourne Stadium possessed.

“Playing in this part of the country is always good as the wickets are true, it gives the batsmen the opp and if you bowl well you get wickets. This ground is lucky for me. I have scored a lot of runs. I enjoy playing on wickets with some red soil in it…one of the very few wickets with red soil left in the country,” he added.(PTI)