The competition is intense in Group C of the Vijay Hazare Trophy, with three teams vying for one berth. While Saurashtra has already qualified for the knockout stage with 16 points from four games, Delhi, Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh will battle it out for one coveted slot, with eight points each in their kitty.
In the last group league fixture on Tuesday, Uttar Pradesh with a Net Run Rate (NRR) of +0.489 plays Haryana, which is already out of contention, at the I.S. Bindra Stadium, while Delhi (-0.441) takes on Saurashtra. At the Sector 16 Stadium, Hyderabad (-0.238) will face Jharkhand, which is also out of the reckoning.
And in such a situation, the teams will not only have to win their respective games but will also need to keep an eye on the NRR and how the other teams fare. If Uttar Pradesh defeats Haryana, it will automatically qualify because of a better run rate and also because it had defeated the two other contenders – Delhi and Hyderabad in last outings.
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But if Uttar Pradesh loses and Delhi beats Saurashtra and Hyderabad also wins against Jharkhand, then Hyderabad will qualify due to a better run rate and advantage of beating Delhi in its last outing. And if Delhi and Uttar Pradesh finish on 12 points, the latter will go through.
“It is a tight group, but our strategy is simple – first ensure a win and then think about other aspects. It is important to have the right approach and stay positive,” Hyderabad coach Milap Mewada told Sportstar.
After a convincing victory against Delhi in the second match, Hyderabad had a couple of poor outings due to batting failure and ahead of the key clash, Mewada has had personal sessions with each player. “I have had a word with each of them and have told them that it is important to stay positive. We haven’t had two good games, but I will take it as a positive, because that will motivate our top batters to come good when it matters the most,” Mewada said, adding that consistency will be the key.
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After early jitters, Uttar Pradesh has played fearless cricket in the last couple of games and that makes coach Vijay Dahiya more confident. “Our team has made a fantastic comeback in the last two games and we want to carry forward the momentum. For us, it is a straight shootout, if we win, we go through on both accounts – the run rate and also because we had defeated the other two contenders in the group stage,” Dahiya, a former India international, said.
“The first two games were a learning experience. The 9 am start is a big challenge, so you have to respect the conditions in the first 15 overs. The other challenge is playing back to back for the fast bowlers. On one hand, the conditions encourage you to play fast bowlers, but playing five games in six days is a tough ask. We will be putting in a lot of effort,” Dahiya said.
The teams have had days of sun and gloom and ahead of the big day, all they seek is consistency and some luck.
At the I.S. Bindra Stadium: Uttar Pradesh vs Haryana
At the Sector 16 Stadium: Hyderabad vs Jharkhand
At Mullanpur: Delhi vs Saurashtra