The 17th edition of the biggest one-day tournament in the domestic circuit, the Vijay Hazare Trophy is set to commence on 19th of September. The competition will see 37 teams fight it out for a month across 160 matches to prove that they are the best in the country. Defending champions Karnataka, who once again possess a formidable side will have to bring their A game from the start of the tournament, if they are to harbour any chance of securing consecutive titles.
This year’s Vijay Hazare Trophy will involve the maximum number of teams due to the reinstating of Bihar and the inclusion of 8 North-East Indian teams in the domestic circuit. All these new teams have been drafted in the ‘Plate Group,’ while the rest of the teams are divided into three groups – Group A, Group B and Group C. Group A and B have 9 teams each and Group C will have 10 teams.
The top two teams from Group A, B and C respectively will qualify for the knockout stages of the competition while only one team from the Plate Group will compete at this stage. The eighth team to qualify will either be the third team from Group A or Group B, depending on who has the better performance.
This tournament will provide a great platform for many of the up and coming players as well as the seasoned campaigners to show the selectors their true potential and stake a claim for national team selection.
Heavyweights like Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Mumbai, and Karnataka will be fighting hard with the likes of Uttar Pradesh, Saurashtra, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat in this competition. It will see some mouth-watering contests as most of these squads are extremely strong. The Rajasthan Royals captain, Ajinkya Rahane, will be leading Mumbai in this edition of the competition, and he will be looking to bring all his captaincy experience into play and contribute with the bat to help his team win the competition. He will have Royals warhorse Dhawal Kulkarni to give him ample support.
Defending champions Karnataka will be counting on the Royals trio of Krishnappa Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal and Stuart Binny to defend their title. However, they will face tough competition from teams like Delhi, who have the feisty Gautam Gambhir back at the helm, and Saurashtra who have the likes of Cheteshwar Pujara, Robin Uthappa, Ravindra Jadeja, and Jaydev Unadkat at their disposal. Suresh Raina too will have a lot to prove this season as he leads a talented Uttar Pradesh side.
The Rajasthan side this year has a good mix of youth and experience and could prove to be the surprise package of the tournament. Led by the seasoned Ashok Menaria, Rajasthan has some exciting talents in the form of Mahipal Lomror and India hopeful Deepak Chahar at their ranks.
The Kerala team would be looking to put the controversies aside and represent their side in a unified manner. The Ranji Trophy quarterfinalists have a well-balanced side, which has the potential to go deep in the tournament. The likes of Sachin Baby, Basil Thampi and Sanju Samson have the capability to turn a match on their own. Kerala would be hoping that others too will put up their hand and be counted.
Besides, it will also be very interesting to see how the new teams from North-East and Bihar perform. The inclusion of the new teams is particularly appreciable because it will provide youngsters from these regions to showcase their talent at the national level.
It will also be a great opportunity for all the domestic players from the Rajasthan Royals camp to gain vital experience of playing under high pressure. We wish all the boys from the Rajasthan Royals family all the best for the upcoming tournament and hope that they come out better players. Needless to say, we will be keeping a keen eye on their performances. Halla Bol!