One of domestic cricket’s prestigious events, the Vijay Hazare Trophy knock out tournament, will commence here from Monday with two matches on the cards. With the entire Indian team for the World T20 available for the championship, the competition is expected to be fierce.
The zonals, serving as the qualifying tournament for the knockout phase, threw up quite a number of surprises, the best being the qualification of Services at the expense of defending champion Delhi from North Zone.
In a five-team contest, Punjab and Services made it to the final round with 16 points apiece. Punjab was crowned the champion on quotient. The West Zone tournament too saw the elimination of Mumbai, which shockingly finished last. Gujarat and Baroda made it to the all-India event with 12 points each. Gujarat became No. 1 on superior quotient.
Tamil Nadu and Karnataka from South Zone reached the final stage as the top two teams. Tamil Nadu finished with 18 points while Karnataka was four behind.
The traditional powerhouse in East, Bengal, was relegated to the runner-up slot by Jharkhand which made it with 14 points. Bengal ended with 12. Central Zone too threw up a surprise when Uttar Pradesh failed to qualify. Vidarbha emerged as the top team with 14 points and Railways second with 10.Star attractions
The two opening games on Monday will feature Railways and Baroda at the Eden Gardens, which will be a day-night affair. The other pre-quarterfinal match will be between the two surprise packets, Services and Vidarbha. The Pathan Brothers — Irfan and Yusuf — will be the chief attraction in the Baroda side while Railways, as usual, will depend on team effort.
South Zone champion Tamil Nadu will take on Bengal on Tuesday in a day-night game at the Eden Gardens where Mohammad Shami will turn out for Bengal and R. Ashwin is likely to play for the visitor.
Karnataka and Gujarat will square off in a day game at the Jadavpur University Salt Lake Campus ground in two quarterfinals action. The other two quarterfinals will be played on Wednesday.
The two semifinals will be played on Friday and the final, a day match, will be on Sunday.