Agarwal boost for Karnataka in semis

Agarwal boost for Karnataka in semis

Karnataka squads

Mayank Agarwal's inclusion will bolster Karnataka batting in the semifinal against Haryana on Friday. DH FILE PHOTO

Karnataka's already-impressive batting unit got another star as Mayank Agarwal joined the defending champions for their Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy semifinal tie on Friday against Haryana.

Mayank, who has been in sublime form in Test cricket, replaced Manoj Bhandage in the squad and is most likely to come in place of Rohan Kadam when the teams lock horns at the Lalbhai Contractor stadium in Surat. 

"Mayank is a big boost for us," said S Arvind, the bowling coach, from Surat on Thursday. "He's a team man. All the guys love talking to him and getting the inputs. He has performed in the finals too. We expect a lot from him."  

Agarwal, who scored 243 against Bangladesh before breaking into the top ten in ICC Test rankings, will also be available for the final, should Karnataka make it.

Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan are facing off in the second semifinal at the same venue. But all eyes will be on the defending champions and if they can get over their humiliating loss to Mumbai in their last Super League game.

Karnataka, who won five out of six games in the league stage, won their first three Super League games handsomely to all but book a spot in the semis. Their lone loss meant Mumbai still had a distant chance, but Punjab's fight ensured Tamil Nadu and Karnataka came through Group B. 

Haryana's rise from Group D has been fairly one-sided because they only had Mumbai as the tough team to put away in the league stage. In the Super League too they only had to ward off the likes of Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Baroda and Delhi to make it to the semifinals. 

While Karnataka are the big dogs in the contest, they are fully aware of Haryana's potent bowling line-up, including Harshal Patel who has 18 wickets in the tournament so far. Harshal is also their top-scorer with 340 runs. 

"They are a good bowling unit, all the three spinners - Yuzvendra Chahal, Amit Mishra and Jayant Yadav - and Harshal have done well for them," said Arvind.

"Shreyas Gopal, Pavan Deshpande and Karun Nair have been doing well for us besides the pacers. But our batting strength is more important right now. Manish (Pandey), KL (Rahul) and Mayank are big a lot for teams to handle. They hold the key in these scenarios." 

Speaking about Karnataka's bowling, Arvind accepted that they have come under the pump but insisted that they had also proved themselves under pressure. "T20 is all about batsmen. The bowlers have been getting punished but you can't blame them. How they have done in pressure situations this season is very good. The spinners will come into play on this wicket," said Arvind.  

Team (from): Manish Pandey (capt), Karun Nair (vice-capt), Rahul KL, Mayank Agarwal, Devdutt Padikkal, Rohan Kadam, Pavan Desphande, Sharath BR (wk), Shreyas Gopal, Suchith J, Pravin Dubey, A Mithun, V Koushik, Ronit More, Anirudha A Joshi.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox