High on confidence following their fairytale run this season, underdogs Maharashtra would be eyeing to break their 72-year title jinx when they take on favourites Karanataka in the summit clash of the Ranji Trophy on Wednesday. Maharashtra won the Ranji Trophy twice but both the titles came in the pre-Independence era in 1939-40 and 1940-41. It will be a real test for the Kedar Jadhavs and the Vijay Zols as they take on the seasoned campaigners like R Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun while bowlers like Samad Fallah and Anupam Sanklecha will face hard-hitting opener Robin Uthappa, the solid Lokesh Rahul and dependable Karun Nair.
Maharashtra's performance in this year's Ranji Trophy has been exemplary as they entered the final of the country's elite domestic cricket tournament after a hiatus of 21 years. They last played in the final of Ranji Trophy in 1992-93 season where they lost to eventual winners Punjab. Maharashtra's has been the surprise pacakage this year, While their batsmen have been consistent, the pacers have provided them breakthroughs all throughout the season.
Maharashtra's all top-five batsmen have scored more than 500 runs with Kedar Jadhav leading the tally with 1074 runs which includes five centuries. Opener Harshad Khadiwale had 980 runs and three centuries to his credit, while India Under-19 captain Vijay Zol too have been among runs for Maharashtra. In fact Zol has been permitted by the BCCI to play the final skipping the U-19 camp in Bangalore for the World Cup. Maharashtra batsmen have so far accounted for 12 hundreds in this year's national championship. If batting has been Maharashtra's strong point, their bowling department is not to be left far behind. Maharashtra'a pace trio of Srikanth Mundhe, Fallah and Sanklecha have fired in unison. In fact, Fallah will be the man to watch out for after his 10-wicket haul against Bengal in the semi-final and his ability to swing the ball both ways.