Karnataka eye quarters berth

Karnataka eye quarters berth

IN FOCUS: Karnataka will hope for the in-form leg-spinning all-rounder Shreyas Gopal to fire on a rank turner against Baroda in Vadodara. DH FILE PHOTO

Having posted two wins on the trot, an upbeat Karnataka will aim to finish their Group engagements on a high when they face Baroda in their final Group ‘A’ match here from Monday. 

With 27 points from seven games, Karnataka are second in the combined (A & B) table, one point behind table-toppers Vidarbha (28). The eight-time champions are at the doorsteps of a quarterfinal berth and will just need three points to guarantee their place.

While a win will definitely see the Manish Pandey-led side progress, a defeat might still not eliminate them if the teams below them don’t outscore them. The pitch at the Moti Bagh stadium appears to be rank turner.

The hosts are a spin-heavy team and they will look to exploit the conditions to the hilt. Apart from part-time spinners Yusuf Pathan and Deepak Hooda, Baroda have three specialist spinners in Krunal Pandya, Bharghav Bhatt and Rishi Arothe.  Baroda, who are in a must-win situation, are the side under pressure and they will look for star players in skipper Kedar Devdhar, Krunal, Pathan, Aditya Waghmode and Hooda to fire in their all-important game.  For Karnataka, the in-form J Suchith gets another chance as he comes in for the injured K Gowtham. Considering the nature of the surface, the visitors could give left-arm spinner Shubhang Hedge an opportunity.  “We’ll miss Bhajji (Gowtham) but we have enough bowlers. The pitch looks like it might turn. Feels like a different kind of wicket; we’re not used to playing on this kind of wicket in Bangalore,” said Pandey.