Domestic giants Mumbai will miss the services of its skipper Ajinkya Rahane in the Super League stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament commencing here Friday, as the star batsman is recovering from niggles. Besides, Mumbai, Kartanaka, Bengal, and Ranji, and Irani Cup champions Vidarbha are some of the big teams that will fight it out in the Super League stage of the domestic T20 tournament.
But all focus would be on Mumbai, who had won the Vijay Hazare Trophy this season and are raring to go all guns blazing in the knock-out stage after losing just one game in the league stage. According to Mumbai's chairman of selectors, Ajit Agarkar, Rahane had "pushed through" the group stage but he needed rest to recover.
In the league stage, Mumbai topped Group C, winning five out of six matches, but Rahane made just 58 runs at an average of 9.67. "He (Rahane) was carrying niggles even during the league phase, which he kind of pushed through when we were in a bit of trouble. But he would not be 100 percent (for Super League)," Agarkar said.
In the absence of Rahane, Mumbai would be relying heavily on Shreyas Iyer and young prodigy Prithvi Shaw to deliver the goods for the side. Shaw, who returned to competitive cricket after recovering from an ankle injury sustained during the Test series in Australia, had just one half-century to his credit in the six matches he played in the league stage -- a 71 versus Goa.
Iyer, on the other hand, was in splendid form, striking two hundred in the league stage. So, now Shaw and Iyer along with the likes of Siddhesh Lad and Surya Kumar Yadav will have to shoulder the responsibility for Mumbai. Mumbai is placed in Group B of the Super League alongside Karnataka, Delhi, Vidarbha, and Uttar Pradesh, while Group A comprises Jharkhand, Gujarat, Railways, Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh.
The winner of Super League Group A and Group B will clash in the final to be held at the Holkar Stadium here on March 14. Meanwhile, Bengal will have their hopes pinned on Wriddiman Saha, who returned to form after scoring 129 against Arunachal Pradesh in the league stage of the tournament.
Bengal's other key players are skipper Manoj Tiwary and wicket-keeper batsman Shreevats Goswami. Vidarbha, coached by former India stumper Chandrakant Pandit, is on a winning streak this season after clinching both the Ranji Trophy and Irani Cyp titles and they would look to register a third crown in the form of Mushtaq Ali Trophy. While Jharkhand and Delhi qualified for the Super League stage by finishing on top of Group A, Vidarbha and Gujarat booked their places from Group B.
From Group C, Mumbai and Railways qualified while Karnataka and Bengal sealed their spots from Group D.Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra are the last two teams to seal their places in the Super League stage from Group E.