A chance for teams to find right mix

Cricket KSCA Invitation meet

The 15th edition of the KSCA all-India invitation tournament, beginning on Saturday, is the first competitive opportunity for teams to implement plans and try out individuals so that by the time the Ranji Trophy arrives, there is a settled look to the combination.

Twelve teams, including three representing the host association, will battle it out for honours in two-day, 100-overs-a-side clashes, with the top two battling it out for the Rs 1 lakh winners’ sum at the Chinnaswamy stadium on August 14 and 15.

Defending champions Tamil Nadu Cricket Association XI will not be seen in action until the second set of league matches which begin on Monday, but if the weather holds up, there should no dearth of quality in the first set itself. All three host teams -- the KSCA XI, the KSCA President’s XI and the KSCA Colts XI -- will kick off their respective campaigns on Saturday, with several individuals aware that good performances here will go a long way towards earning a berth in the State side proper. One certainty in the Karnataka team who isn’t playing for any of the State outfits is Robin Uthappa, representing last year’s runners-up Air India Sports Club.

Chennai teams have tended to dominate the competition, with club sides such as India Cements and Chemplast having won the title more than once. The KSCA XI has triumphed five times, including as recently as in 2007, but they will have to be on top of their game to secure qualification to the quarterfinals from ‘A’ Zone which includes Kerala Cricket Association, to be led initially by temperamental fast bowler S Sreesanth, and formidable ONGC. Sunil Joshi’s men kick off their campaign at the NRA (T) grounds against Kerala as the most fancied of the three local sides.

The tournament will also bring those players who have returned to the official fold from the Indian Cricket League on a common inter-state platform for the first time. Among others, Stuart Binny features in the President’s XI, R Jesuraj has worked his way into the TNCA XI and Ambati Rayudu has returned to the Hyderabad Cricket Association XI.
The 12 teams have been divided into four zones of three each, and two teams from each zone will qualify for the knockout quarterfinals. The weather has been threatening to throw a spanner in the works, but if the rains stay away and the pitches pan out favourably, entertainment will not be at a premium.

Teams: ‘A’ Zone: KSCA XI, Kerala Cricket Association, ONGC.

‘B’ Zone: KSCA President’s XI, Gujarat Cricket Association, Air India Sports Club.

‘C’ Zone: Tamil Nadu Cricket Association, Railways Sports Promotion Board, Orissa Cricket Association.

‘D’ Zone: Dr DY Patil Cricket Academy (Mumbai), KSCA Colts, Hyderabad Cricket Association.

Saturday’s matches: KSCA XI vs Kerala (NRA), KSCA President’s XI vs Gujarat

(Chinnaswamy stadium), Railways vs Orissa (RWF), KSCA Colts vs Hyderabad (IAF).

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