If Mumbai is starting out as an overwhelming favorite to beat Uttar Pradesh and claim their fourth title from Vijay Hazare (50 plus), the unstoppable form of skipper Prithvi Shaw is a big reason.
Shaw, with a record total of 754 points so far, could beat the 800 points in Sunday’s final at Ferozeshah Kotla. In fact, looking at its four-century run – three of which are over 150 – you might even expect it to pass the 900-point mark.
Thrown from the test squad, the 21-year-old is desperate to gain the attention of national selectors ahead of the Indian squad being selected for the ODI three-game series against England. Unless UP grabs the first chance Shaw is known to give, the youngster might just be dictating how the contest unfolds.
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No doubt Shaw has scored with vengeance against teams like Delhi, Karnataka, Saurashtra and Pondicherry, UP faces other factors as well.
UP, the Railways finalist in the 2004-05 season, will face the form of Shaw’s opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal (179 points) and former captain Aditya Tare (181). Additionally, seasoned average pacemaker Dhawal Kulkarni and skater Prashant Solanki (14 wickets each) have caused maximum damage this season.
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Under the guidance of a young captain in Karan Sharma, UP are a fairly inexperienced team. But his journey to the final was inspiring. The way the team rallied 66-for-four to overtake host Delhi was commendable.
Although his superior order disappointed in the knockout stage, Karan, Akshdeep Nath and Upendra Yadav saved the team by displaying good temper.
Left arm spinner Shivam Sharma (20 wickets) might still hold the key to UP, but it will be interesting to see how middle stimulators Yash Dayal, Shivam Mavi and Aaqib Khan treat Shaw early in the innings. Knowing the conditions could also help UP in their third straight outing at the Kotla where Mumbai play their season premiere.
The game starts at 9 a.m.