Iyer return adds spice to Ranji Trophy semis

Shreyas Iyer will be playing Ranji Tophy semis. Source (X)

It’s crunch time in domestic cricket. The Ranji Trophy semi-finals will see Vidarbha locking horns against Madhya Pradesh and Mumbai taking on Tamil Nadu. The teams are eager to muster the last ounce of strength and strategy to move a step closer to the coveted trophy.

Mumbai vs Tamil Nadu (BKC, Mumbai)

Who does Iyer replace?

A dazzling 203 by Musheer Khan in the quarter-final injects a surge of confidence into the Mumbai camp. Musheer’s seamless transition to the senior level after his exploits at the U-19 World Cup augurs well for the team. Shreyas Iyer’s return is an addition to this formidable yet unpredictable batting unit featuring Prithvi Shaw, Bhupen Lalwani and Shivam Dube.

They can also expect runs from all-rounder Shams Mulani and wicketkeeper Hardik Tamore. Tanush Kotian and Tushar Deshpande scoring centuries batting at No. 10 and No. 11 in the quarter-finals highlight Mumbai’s depth. Captain Ajinkya’s Rahane’s poor run is a concern as well as selection headache. Who makes way for Iyer?

Mumbai’s bowling has been effective, thanks to Mohit Avasthi’s medium-pace and Shams Mulani’s left-arm spin. They’ve consistently taken wickets against tough teams. Mumbai will count on Avasthi and Mulani to keep up their good work.

Visitors brimming with confidence

Confidence is high in the Tamil Nadu camp as well, following their innings and 33-run victory over defending champions Saurashtra. Leading the side, R Sai Kishore was the star of the show. The left-arm spinner claimed nine wickets in the match and put the brakes on a formidable batting unit featuring Cheteshwar Pujara. Coached by former Mumbai player Sulakshan Kulkarni, Tamil Nadu is a balanced side. Mostly reliant on the left-arm spin of Sai Kishore and Ajith Ram, they also have quicker guys to take wickets and bowl economically.

Batters N Jagadeesan and Baba Indrajith have scored consistently this season. Pradosh Ranjan Paul, Vijay Shankar and the captain himself bolster this unit. Missing N Sudharsan, they should be boosted by the return of Washington Sundar. As they gear up to face Mumbai, the Tamil Nadu players understand the enormity of the challenge. Yet, buoyed by their recent triumph and a string of good displays based on skill and determination, Tamil Nadu will enter the semi-final brimming with belief, setting the stage for an exciting clash.

Vidarbha vs Madhya Pradesh (VCA Stadium, Nagpur)

Balanced and firing

Quite a few eyes will be on Vidarbha’s top-order. Led by the dynamic Atharva Taide, whose blistering century in the quarter-finals left onlookers in awe, the openers can set up big totals. Dhruv Shorey is also among the runs. The seasoned Karun Nair is coming good, while Yash Rathod is showing promise. Captain and wicketkeeper, Akshay Wadkar is contributing regularly.

Credit for reaching the semi-finals also goes to the bowling unit, spearheaded by left-spinners Aditya Sarwate and Harsh Dube, who wreaked havoc against Karnataka. They will once again hold the key. Fast bowlers Aditya Thakare and Umesh Yadav are also taking wickets. This means Vidarbha have most bases covered.

Feeble batting & potent attack

Madhya Pradesh go into this match with concerns over batting, particularly after a poor performance against Andhra in the quarters. Apart from Yash Dubey’s resilient 64 in the first innings, the rest failed to make substantial contributions. The going wasn’t that great in the group stage either. Venkatesh Iyer is the only one with a 50-plus average this season.

Madhya Pradesh find solace in their formidable bowling department, spearheaded by the talented Avesh Khan. Despite taking just two wickets in the quarter-finals, Avesh remains a pivotal figure, with the team banking on him to deliver. The swift Anubhav Agarwal is a potent threat, having taken nine wickets in the previous match. Left-arm pacer Kulwant Khejroliya and spinner Kumar Kartikeya give the attack an all-round look. With the trophy in sight, we’re set for two exciting showdowns where new stars will shine, lasting legends will emerge, and dreams will be realised.

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