The Airtel Prof. D.B. Deodhar Trophy inter-zonal limited-over cricket tournament, beginning at the Nehru Stadium here on Sunday, will be keenly watched as some of the discarded and current players will try to establish their credentials, and the younger lot will try and catch the selectors’ eyes.
The tournament opener will see host East Zone taking on South Zone in a quarterfinal, the winner taking on defending champion West Zone in the semifinals on Tuesday.
North Zone will clash with Central on Monday for a place in the final slated for Wednesday.
Devoid of star value, East, led by Wriddhiman Saha, will bank more on team work rather than on any one individual, while South — captained by Dinesh Karthik — features a number of established stars.
Saha was forthright when he said East would depend on team work.
“A team may have a number of stars, but the game is played on the field and not on paper. We may be the underdogs, but we are determined to do well in this competition,” he said after the team’s practice.
Mohammad Shami, currently in India’s ODI squad, will be out to prove his newly acquired status is no fluke, while Saha and Ishank Jaggi will be the team’s batting mainstay.
Newcomers like Pallav Das, Shib Shankar Roy, Gobind Poddar, Shahbaz Nadeem and Biplab Samantaray will try to grab the limelight.
South looks a mix of youth and experience.
Karthik, who said playing for the zonal side itself motivated him to give his best, will have Robin Uthappa, R. Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun attempting to grab the headlines.
Apart from them, the team has a number of splendid performers, including some exciting youngsters like Baba Aparajith, Sandeep Warrier, B. Sudhakar and Hanuman Vihari.
Champion West, led by Parthiv Patel, looks a strong side capable of retaining the trophy.
Central, captained by Suresh Raina, will be a tough opponent to overcome.
Gautam Gambhir-skippered North Zone looks to be the team to beat in this competition.
In all, the tournament — shifted here from its original venue in Kochi — will hopefully provide good cricket over the next four days.
The teams (from):
East Zone: Pallav Das, Shib Shankar Roy, Ishank Jaggi, Gobind Poddar, Wriddhiman Saha (capt., wk), Basant Mohanty, Abu Nechim Ahmed, Mohammad Shami, Biplab Samantaray, Gokul Sharma, Shahbaz Nadeem, Iresh Saxena, Arabind Singh, Pritam Das, Mani Shankar Mura Singh.
South Zone: K. Dinesh Karthik (capt., wk), Robin Uthappa, K.L. Rahul, B. Aparajith, Sachin Baby, Stuart Binny, C.M. Gautham, R. Vinay Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun, B. Sudhakar, K. Srikar Bharat, S. Sandeep Warrier, Ashish Reddy, Hanuman Vihari, Sanju Samson.
Umpires: Anil Chaudhary (Delhi) and Suresh Shastri (Mumbai). Match referee: Feroz Gheyas.
Playing hours: 8.30 a.m. to 12 noon; 12.45 p.m. to 4.15 p.m.