Bengaluru: The likes of Robin Uthappa and Kedar Jadhav will be eyeing to resurrect their international careers, before embarking on high-octane IPL contest, when Ranji Trophy champions Karnataka and Rest of India (RoI) lock horns in the Irani Cup here tomorrow.
Robin Uthappa and Kedar Jadhav
Karnataka's Uthappa, who closely missed the World Cup bus in spite of scoring heavily this domestic season, would like to continue with his form and make a statement to the selectors. He scored 912 runs in 19 innings at an average of 50.66 per innings, topping the Ranji batting charts.
Not far behind would be RoI's Jadhav, who will also be looking to impress the national selectors.
In fact, more than Uthappa, the Maharashtra batsman would be eager to perform as he did not have a satisfactory domestic season this year.
Last season Jadhav was the highest scorer with 1,223 runs that helped Maharashtra reach to the final. But this year he
cracked just one ton during his team's semifinal journey.
A solid knock against the Karnataka pace trio of Abhimanyu Mithun, R Vinay Kumar and Sreenath Aravind will boost Jadhav's confidence and keep him in the selection fray.
Himachal Pradesh's Paras Dogra will also try to make his profile stronger by continuing to bat well as he did by making five double hundreds since 2011-12, including two this season.
Dogra's 819 runs was key in Himachal nearly storming into the quarterfinal stage, but failed by a whisker on the last day of the league stage.
Meanwhile, RoI captain Manoj Tiwary, who made just two half-centuries for Bengal, would like to regain form by taking a cue from his performance in the Deodhar Trophy, where he topped the batting charts and led East Zone to the title after 11 seasons.
"I am working hard on my batting and I am sure big innings from my blade is round the corner," Tiwary said. Unmukt Chand, Jiwanjot Singh and Naman Ojha, are others who form the core batting lineup of the visitors.
Vinay Kumar and Shardul Thakur, who have consistently bowled well for their respective sides Karnataka and Mumbai, will be aiming to do well keeping a long season in mind. Vinay Kumar became the joint highest wicket-taker along with Thakur this Ranji season with 48 wickets at 18.72 in 10 games.
Similarly, Gujarat's Rush Kalaria would like to impress again after he had bagged 33 wickets in eight games at an average of 17.18.
India discard Pragyan Ojha, who has been cleared to bowl by the BCCI after being reported for suspect action, will have the company of spinner Jayant Yadav, who was impressive for Haryana when he picked up 13 wickets and made 97 in a 62-run loss against Saurashtra in Lahli.
On the other hand, the Ranji Trophy champions appear to have an advantage over the relatively newer and younger RoI side. The home side, however, will miss the services of injured K L Rahul, who had scored 838 runs in just five games at an average of 93.11 per innings, and Chidambaram Gautam, who has almost paved way for Abhishek Reddy to make his debut.
"The injuries to Gautam and Rahul has almost paved the way for Reddy to make a debut against the Rest of India side," Vinay Kumar told reporters here. Rahul suffered a hamstring injury while sliding to stop a boundary on the opening day of the Ranji final against Tamil Nadu, and Gautam suffered a quadriceps muscle pull. Karnataka have a much superior all-round bowling attack,
especially with the new ball. Mithun and left arm bowler Aravind, having claimed over hundred wickets among them, have proved a handful for other teams.
"Karnataka is a well-balanced side. They have a good batting lineup and have good bowlers too -- Vinay and Mithun included," Tiwary said.
Rest of India: Manoj Tiwary (c), Unmukt Chand, Jiwanjot Singh, Kedar Jadhav, Paras Dogra, Naman Ojha (wk), Rishi Dhawan, Jayant Yadav, Pragyan Ojha, Shardul Thakur, Varun Aaron, Rush Kalaria, B Aparajith, Jalaj Saxena, Vijay Shankar.
Karnataka: R Vinay Kumar (c), CM Gautam (wk), Robin Uthappa, R Samarth, Manish Pandey, Karun Nair, Shreyas Gopal, Shishir Bhavane, Abhishek Reddy, Udit Patel, Abhimanyu Mithun, S Arvind, HS Sharath, Mayank Agarwal, J Suchith, KC Avinash.