Jaipur, Dec 23: Saurashtra lock horns with an equally dominant Tamil Nadu in the semi-finals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy in Jaipur on Friday (December 24). While in the second semi-final contest, Himachal Pradesh will face Services.
Both Saurashtra and TN made it to the last four in convincing fashion. Tamil Nadu hammered southern rivals Karnataka by 151 runs, Saurashtra defeated Vidarbha by seven wickets to make it to the semis.
Services decimated Kerala to make it to the last four of the national ODI championship for the first time ever, while Rishi Dhawan-led Himachal notched up a five-wicket win over Uttar Pradesh the other day.
Going into the semis against a strong opponent, Saurashtra have their biggest asset in the form of the middle-order. The middle-order comprises the experienced trio of Sheldon Jackson, Prerak Mankad and Arpit Vasavada. They can take any good attack apart on their day, including Tamil Nadu's strong and varied one.
Mankad (339 runs) would take a lot of confidence from his unbeaten match-winning 77 in the quarter-final and would be keen to continue in the same vein. The 35-year-old Jackson, who has 2,212 'List A' runs, holds the key and his performance could eventually be the difference between the two sides.
However, Saurashtra openers Vishwaraj Jadeja and young Harvik Desai would need to get runs under their belt and would be eyeing for a big knock in the crunch game. Samarth Vyas and Chirag Jani would also need to play their parts as Saurashtra are unlikely to change a winning combination.
Their formidable bowling attack, led by skipper Jaydev Unadkat, comprises young India seamer Chetan Sakriya and the duo can wreak havoc at the start and also at the death. The spin duo of Dharmendrasinh Jadeja and leggie Yuvraj Chudasma also need to bowl well in tandem to stop marauding TN batters. Even Chirag Jani and Mankad's contribution with the ball will be handy.
For Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy champions Tamil Nadu, the role of opener N Jagadeesan, who hit a superb hundred in the quarters, would be key and the start he provides with B Aparajith will have a say in the team's fortunes.
Even the other batters including R Sai Kishore, who was promoted up the order, skipper Dinesh Karthik, the reliable Aparajith and Baba Indrajith can tear into Saurashtra's bowling and given the form they have been in, a big score looks imminent.
Tamil Nadu has two other players, who can change the match's complexion in a jiffy -- the burly M Shahrukh Khan, who has been making headlines, and all-rounder Vijay Shankar.
Shahrukh Khan was in a devastating mood against Karnataka and his blistering assault at the death pounded the bowlers into submission and he will look to make his presence felt again.
On the bowling front, TN's troika of spinners -- Sai Kishore, M Siddharth and Washington Sundar, on a comeback trail, can be more than a handful for the Saurashtra batters. Pacers Sandeep Warrier and R Silambarasan have the ability to strike early, which the Saurashtra team would be wary of.
Himachal Pradesh vs Services:
Himachal's morale would have received a big boost after their convincing win over Uttar Pradesh. For them, a lot would depend on how the last match's hero and opener Prashant Chopra fares.
Another important cog in their wheel is Nikhil Gangta. But their middle-order, comprising the likes of Rishi Dhawan, Amit Kumar, Sumeet Verma and Akash Vasisth, needs to pull its weight for the team to make a match of it.
Pacer Vinay Galetiya, who wreaked havoc against UP, would be raring to go once again, but needs support from the likes of Dhawan, medium-pacers Siddharth Sharma, Pankaj Jaiswal and left-arm orthodox spinner Mayank Dagar.
For Services, the experienced duo of opener Ravi Chauhan and skipper Rajat Paliwal hold the key. If Services have to set a target or chase a big score, then the two will have to make a significant contribution.
On the bowling front, medium-pacer Diwesh Pathania would need to play a vital role along with Pal Raj Bahadur, G Rahul Singh and 27-year old off-spinner Pulkit Narang.
Tamil Nadu vs Saurashtra:
TN Squad: N Jagadeesan, Baba Indrajith, Washington Sundar, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Baba Aparajith, Vijay Shankar (c), Shahrukh Khan, R Silambarasan, Sandeep Warrier, Manimaran Siddharth, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Hari Nishanth, Sanjay Yadav, Kaushik Gandhi, Murugan Ashwin, M Mohammed, Laxmesha Suryaprakash, Jagatheesan Kousik, Ganga Sridhar Raju, P Saravana Kumar, Sai Sudharsan.
Saurashtra Squad: Vishvaraj Jadeja, Harvik Desai, Sheldon Jackson (wk), Prerak Mankad, Arpit Vasavada, Samarth Vyas, Chirag Jani, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, Yuvraj Chudasama, Jaydev Unadkat (c), Chetan Sakariya, Kamlesh Makvana, Kushang Patel, Himalaya Barad, Snell Patel, Kishan Parmar, Pranav Nandha, Parth Chauhan, Parth Bhut, Devang Karamta.
Himachal vs Services:
Services Squad: Shivam Tiwari, Ravi Chauhan, Trivendra Kumar, Varun Choudhary, Rahul Singh, Rajat Paliwal (c), Devender Lohchab (wk), Diwesh Pathania, Pulkit Narang, Mohit Ahlawat, Gahlaut Rahul Singh, Shakti Malviya, Lakhan Singh, Gaurav Kochar, Mumtaz Qadir, Vikas Umesh Yadav, Pal Raj Bahadur, Jayjeet Jaiswal, Lovekesh Kumar, Ashish Nuniwal.
HP Squad: Shubham Arora (wk), Prashant Chopra, Nikhil Gangta, Amit Kumar, Rishi Dhawan (c), Sumeet Verma, Akash Vasisht, Mayank Dagar, Vinay Galetiya, Pankaj Jaiswal, Sidharth Sharma, Ayush Jamwal, Arpit Guleria, Gurvinder Singh, Priyanshu Khanduri, Vaibhav Arora, Amit Thakur
Timings: Both the matches start at 9 am
TN vs SAU: KL Saini Ground
HP vs SER: Sawai Mansingh Stadium
Channel: StarSports Network
Live Streaming: Hotstar.com.