Karnataka face Andhra challenge

TN run into Hyderabad

As the South Zone one-day tournament reaches its business end with Sunday’s final set of matches, the battle for the Subbaiah Pillai Trophy remains very much between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, despite Hyderabad’s early promise. 

From Goa being shot out to 54 by Karnataka on the opening day to Andhra chasing down an incredible 383 against the same Goan outfit on Friday, this year’s tournament has thrown up some extraordinary results. Sandwiched between these two heart-breaks for Goa was their upset win over Tamil Nadu.  

The minnows had done a huge favour to Karnataka by stunning Tamil Nadu on the second day of the tournament, but the hosts may just have squandered a golden opportunity to lay their hands on the Trophy after losing to the defending champions, and conceding a bonus point, in their third match. Though Karnataka stay in contention for top honours after a comprehensive 103-run win over Hyderabad on Friday, Tamil Nadu, at the moment, appear to have a better chance of emerging champions for the fourth time in a row.  

After four matches each, both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka have three wins and a loss each, but the former have won all their matches with a bonus point to stay a point ahead of the home team at 14. While Karnataka failed to earn the bonus point against Kerala, they couldn’t deny Tamil Nadu the bonus point, thus jeopardising their chances of regaining the title they last won in 2007-08. 

Karnataka’s immediate target, however, will be to qualify to the all-India one-day tournament for the Vijay Hazare Trophy as one of the top two South Zone teams. A simple win against Andhra at the Chinnaswamy stadium will ensure them a place in the knockouts, but is the task that simple actually? The way Andhra hunted down Goa’s close to 400-run total shows Karnataka can ill afford to take their victory for granted. 

With the number bonus points going to be crucial in deciding the champions in case of teams being level on points, Karnataka will be targetting the same while hoping for a favour from Hyderabad, who take on Tamil Nadu in their last encounter. 

A resurgent Hyderabad have showed they have the potential to be party poopers and Tamil Nadu would be aware of the challenge ahead of them. The Lakshmipathi Balaji-led side will have to win with a bonus point to neutralise Karnataka’s claim in case Robin Uthappa and company collect their full complement of five points against Andhra. 

While another set of five points will leave Tamil Nadu with an unassailable 19 points, a simple win will tie them with Karnataka on 18. Should there be such a situation where both teams are with equal number of wins and bonus points, Karnataka won’t be complaining much as they enjoy a very healthy net run-rate (the third factor to decide the champions) of 1.46 as aganst Tamil Nadu’s 0.59.

Karnataka will be hoping injured Stuart Binny recovers in time for the crucial match as the all-rounder provides the much-needed meat in the middle-order besides chipping in with a few meaningful overs. 

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