AGARTALA: For all the India hopefuls as well as the discards, the all-India inter-state Vijay Hazare one-day tournament beginning here from Saturday, will provide a window of opportunity. There is every reason for the 10 teams in fray to take up the challenge in right earnest.

The zonal rounds produced some surprises, with the biggest one being defending champion Saurashtra’s elimination from West Zone. Last year’s runner-up Bengal made sure of its entry with an all-win record from East. But the team that impressed the most was Tamil Nadu, the South Zone champion. It will be the clear favourite in its opening encounter when it takes on East Zone runner-up Orissa.

North Zone champion Delhi, despite losing its zonal league match to Himachal Pradesh, the eventual runner-up of the zone, will take on Railways, which finished second best to Uttar Pradesh in the Central Zone.

U.P. is one team that cannot be taken lightly. With so much talent to choose from, the team is the dark horse despite the presence of sides like Mumbai, Delhi, TN, Baroda and Bengal.

Despite missing three stalwarts in Dinesh Karthik, Laxmipathy Balaji and Murali Vijay, Tamil Nadu has enough depth in batting to take on any side in the tournament.

Orissa skipper Shib Sundar Das looked a cheerful person knowing the fact that his bowling need not worry about the three on India duty.The matches will start at 8.30 a.m. and all the five matches to be played at the Maharaja Bir Bikram Stadium will be telecast live.

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