Vijay Hazare Trophy: Four Players Who Made A Mark
Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli and Jasprit Bumrah have all done well in previous editions of the competition.
The Vijay Hazare Trophy has reached the business end and quite a few players have done well, churning out impressive performances both with the bat and the ball.
The relevance of the tournament has always been questioned, but the competition has the potential to serve as a launch pad for domestic stars, especially when the Indian team thinktank has started planning for the 2019 World Cup.
Despite success in South Africa in the limited over formats, a lot of question is still left unanswered. The biggest and the most important one being the glaring hole in India’s middle-order. India’s head coach Ravi Shastri has also admitted that an unsettled middle-order is an area of concern going into the 2019 World Cup.
Apart from the middle order dilemma, another bone of contention for the Indian team is the need for more quality bowlers. With India playing around 63 limited over matches this season, the team must get its combination and rotation right to make sure its bowlers are injury-free. The spin twins of Kuldeep and Chahal are doing great for the team right now but their sustenance depends on their judicial use and making sure they mystery remains intact.
With stakes high for India, the team management would want youngsters in India, who are doing extremely well in the domestic circuit to stay in the race for the World Cup.
Ajinkya Rahane, Virat Kohli, Manish Pandey and Jasprit Bumrah have all proved their mettle in the Vijay Hazare Trophy before graduating to the senior side. Even cricketers like Robin Uthappa, Dinesh Karthik have performed well in this tournament to make it back to national reckoning.
Before the semi-finals, let’s have a look at some the players who have caught the eyes in current session of the tournament.
1. Mayank Agarwal (Karnataka)
This has been one of the best seasons for Mayank Agarwal. In the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Agarwal has already amassed 552 runs in six innings, while opening the batting for his team. Till now he has scored the most number of runs in the tournament at a staggering average of 92 and strike rate of 109.3. Siddhesh Lad, the second highest run-scorer in the tournament, is 179 runs behind Agarwal.
Against Hyderabad in the quarter-final, Agarwal smashed a 111-ball 140, including 12 fours and seven sixes, to take Karnataka to the semi-final with a 103-run win.
His wonderful form has garnered all the right attention. MSK Prasad, the chairman of selectors, has taken note of Agarwal’s antics on the field and might be impressed enough to include him in the India squad for the Nidahas Trophy tri-series in Sri Lanka in March.
2. Hanuma Vihari (Andhra Pradesh)
Vihari, who is the skipper of Andhra Pradesh, has led from the front and has been instrumental in the team’s uncontrollable run in the tournament. His team is yet to be defeated and has qualified for the semi-finals of the tournament with seven wins on a trot.
With 353 runs from seven matches at an average of 58.83 and a strike rate of 108.61, Vihari is now eight on the list of batsmen with most runs scored in the competition. His score of 169 from 118 balls against Mumbai during the league stage is the highest individual score of the tournament.
Batting at number three position, Vihari has played a crucial innings in most matches to see the team through. With Andhra slated to play the semi-final against Saurashtra, a lot will depend on Vihari to make sure his team qualifies for the final.
3. Mohammad Siraj (Hyderabad)
The tall, lanky pacer had an impressive outing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy picking up three five-wicket hauls in the competition.
With 23 wickets in seven matches, Siraj has done well to give the selectors a timely reminder ahead of the Nidahas Trophy, where they might plan to rest the likes of Bhuvneshwar and Bumrah after a hectic tour of South Africa.
In the quarter-final against Karnataka, which led to the eventual ouster of Baroda, Siraj was the only bowler who not only managed to give less than six runs per over but also did well to take five wickets. He ended the match with a figure of 5/59.
With 23 wickets in seven matches at an average of 15.65, Siraj tops the best bowlers list in the tournament. In all likelihood he will continue to top the list although semi-finals and finals are still to go.
4. Suryakumar Yadav (Mumbai)
Overcoming a disciplinary issue, Suryakumar Yadav was a last-minute inclusion into the Mumbai squad for the Vijay Hazare Trophy. This, after he apologised to the Mumbai Cricket Association for retweeting a post that questioned his exclusion from the Syed Mushtaq T20 tournament.
After a series of inconsistent performances, Yadav’s unbeaten 134 in the opening game against Madhya Pradesh set the ball rolling for Mumbai in the tournament.
Unfortunately, Mumbai has been knocked out of the tournament after their quarter-final defeat to Maharashtra on 21 February. But in the seven matches played, Yadav managed to score 364 runs at an average of over 60 and strike rate of 103.40.
The former Mumbai captain who is best suited for the shorter versions of the game compiled well-made 69 against Maharashtra in the quarterfinal.
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