In what promises to be an enticing contest full of interesting sub-plots, Gujarat boasting of Ranji Trophy’s highest run-getter Priyank Panchal will be pitted against Jharkhand that has top wicket-taker Shahbaz Nadeem in their ranks in the semi-final, starting tomorrow. While both teams are not exactly traditional heavyweights but they have performed consistently on neutral venues riding on some talented but unheralded name in domestic cricket.
Gujarat has had some powerhouse batting performers like Panchal who has scored more than 1100 runs this season. Not to forget opener Samit Gohel, whose 359 not out was a world record in first class cricket for an opener who carried his bat through. And above all the ‘towering presence’ of pocket sized dynamo in their skipper Parthiv Patel, who needs less than 400 runs to complete 10,000 runs in first class cricket.
With his new found confidence having hit two half centuries against England on his Test comeback, Parthiv would be eager to teach Jharkhand bowling a lesson with his explosive strokeplay. The only player who would be missed is left arm spinner Axar Patel out due to a finger surgery. But they have a yorker specialist in Jasprit Bumrah in their ranks.
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His recent inclusion in Cricket Australia’s ODI Team of the Year would increase his confidence manifold and would be good practice before the upcoming limited overs series against England. For Jharkhand, a lot will depend on how well left arm spinner Nadeem, who has 50 wickets already this season, bowls on Jamtha track.
Nadeem’ s discipline needs to be complemented by likes of Rahul Shukla. Jharkhand’s batting depends a lot on young left-hander Ishan Kishan, leading the chart with 719 runs including a 273 against Delhi. His lusty hitting during fourth innings chase in quarter final against Haryana has certainly caught attention.
He will have support from veterans Saurabh Tiwary and Ishank Jaggi apart from youngster Virat Singh, who could pose challenge for Gujarat attack. Not to forget the mentoring and strategising of Mahendra Singh Dhoni which has been a big factor.