January 3, 2010 12:04:10 am
Led by former India captain Rahul Dravid,Karnataka will hope to continue their dream run when they take on a resurgent Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy semi-finals at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium from Sunday.
Karnataka,who last won the coveted title in 1998-99,have had an outstanding season thus far with a group of talented youngsters performing consistently with the bat and ball. They have been the team to watch over the last three months,winning four Super League matches and getting the better of Punjab in the quarter-finals by virtue of their first innings lead.
Manish Pandey (668 in 7 matches),K B Pawan (507 in seven),Ganesh Satish (487 in five) and Amit Verma (482 in seven) have lead Karnatakas batting onslaught,while the experience of Rahul Dravid (267 runs in three games) and Robin Uthappa (319 from six) should augment the bubbling talent of the young guns who have been in blazing form right through the season.
Karnataka,however,cannot attribute their good fortune to their awesome batting performance alone. The fast bowling trio of R Vinay Kumar (38 wickets in six matches),Abhimanyu Mithun (34 in seven) and Sreesanth Aravind (23 in six) have done commendably well,accounting for 95 wickets between them.
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Uttar Pradesh,on their part,will be aching to avenge their 85-run defeat in the season-opener at Meerut. They were rocked by emerging fast bowler Abhimanyu Mithun who came with a match-haul of 11 wickets,including a hat-trick on his debut.
However,with no surprise elements in the Karnataka bastion,UP should be better prepared for this do-or-die game. Though the visitors will miss Suresh Raina and Sudip Tyagi,who are away with the national team,they still have the potential to upset Karnataka.
Parvinder Singh (549),Shivakant Shukla (328),Kaif (326),Tanmay Srivatsava (349),all-rounder Bhuvaneswar Kumar (295 and 19 wickets),Praveen Kumar and Piyush Chawla (28 wickets in six matches) have kept the UP juggernaut revving this season.
Karnataka: (likely) Robin Uthappa,KB Pawan,G Satish, Rahul Dravid (capt),Manish Pandey,Amit Verma, CM Gautam (wk),Sunil Joshi,Vinay Kumar,A Mithun,S Aravind. .
Uttar Pradesh: (likely) Tanmay Srivastava,Shivkant Shukla,Mohammad Kaif (capt),Rohit Srivastava,Parvinder Singh,Bhuvneshwar Kumar,Piyush Chawla,Praveen Kumar,Amir Khan (wk),Praveen Gupta,RP Singh.
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