Return of the old guard: Gautam Gambhir, who missed the league phase of the Vijay Hazare Trophy with an ankle injury, makes a comeback for the knockouts. The 36-year-old’s return will not only bolster Delhi’s batting, but it will also aptly complement the plethora of young batsmen in their line-up such as Unmukt Chand, Hiten Dalal, Rishabh Pant and Nitish Rana.
U-19 stars: The knockouts will also feature members of India’s victorious U-19 World Cup squad such as Mumbai’s Prithvi Shaw and Delhi’s Manjot Kalra.
The hopefuls: Teams have relied on the belligerence of their dashing middle-order batsmen, who have taken them into the knockouts based on their sheer individual brilliance. Players such as Hanuma Vihari for Andhra, Baroda’s Deepak Hooda and Mumbai’s Siddhesh Lad and Surayakumar Yadav have scorched the run-scoring charts with their dazzling stroke-play. In doing so, it has also handed these youngsters a rare life-line of breaking into an unsettled middle-order of the senior Indian team. Mumbai, who will take on Maharashtra in the quarter-final, will see the return of Shreyas Iyer, who was recently part of India’s first ODI series win in South Africa.
The misses: Karnataka will be without the services of R.Vinay Kumar, who is ruled out of the quarter-final game against Hyderabad with an elbow injury. Karun Nair will lead the team in his absence. Baroda, meanwhile, have axed Yusuf Pathan for the knockouts after his indifferent form in the league games, where the all-rounder could accrue just 79 runs from six games.
Quarter-final schedule: 1st quarter-final: (February 21) Hyderabad vs Karnataka, Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi.
2nd quarter-final: (February 21) Mumbai vs Maharashtra, Palam A Ground, Delhi.
3rd quarter-final: (February 22) Baroda vs Saurashtra, Feroz Shah Kotla, Delhi.
4th quarter-final: (February 22) Andhra vs Delhi, Palam A Ground, Delhi.