Mysore:A buoyant Karnataka will strive to end their 11-year drought when they cross swords with 38-time champions Mumbai in the Ranji Trophy final, commencing from Monday at Gangotri Glades ground here.
Powered by an array of exciting batsmen and bowlers, Karnataka topped the Super League phase with 28 points from six matches before overcoming Punjab and Uttar Pradesh en route to the final round.
Batting being Mumbai's forte, Karnataka are hoping that Abhimanyu Mithun (38 wickets in eight matches), who has been the cynosure on several occasions this season, R Vinay Kumar (39 in seven) and Sreenath Aravind (26 in seven) would make their performance count when it matters most.
It would be interesting to see how Mumbai encounter the quick Mithun on a track which is expected to generate pace and bounce besides encouraging lateral movements off the seam.
Pin-point accuracy and pace have been the 21-year-old's weapon in the tournament so far, but bowling to the batsmen who are more accumulators than strokemakers would be a test of Mithun's temperament.
The Mithun factor apart, Mumbai will have to contend with the swerve and verve of Vinay Kumar who has played a pivotal role in previous outings. The pacer would like to put up some extra efforts in the final to fetch glory for his team and at the same time catch attention of the national selectors.
Veteran left-arm spinner Sunil Joshi would also like to bid adieu to the first class cricket on a title-winning high.
A triumph here would add icing to his record of being the third highest wicket-taker in the Ranji Trophy after Rajinder Singh Goel and S Venkatraghavan.
But Wasim Jaffer-led Mumbai have the reputation of holding the fort and batting out opponents in key matches.
Ajinkya Rahane, this season's top run-getter with 791 under his belt, Jaffer (627) himself and Sahil Kukreja (588) have been in the thick of runs for Mumbai.
Ajit Agarkar (391), Abhishek Nayar and Ramesh Powar have so far done well whenever Mumbai's chips have been down. As the records manifest, the Mumbaikars' have the penchant and resolve to perform in crucial ties, reflected in the number of times they have wrested the title.
The Mumbai attack, which also boast of Dhawal Kulkarni and Iqbal Abdulla, has not been penetrative thus far in the season. The bowlers will have to fire in unison if they are to arrest the run-scoring spree of Karnataka batsmen.
Kulkarni, who was laid low by an injury, returns to the Mumbai eleven, while Balachandra Akhil comes to replace Rahul Dravid, who made a unbeaten 209 in semifinal against Uttar Pradesh.
Karnataka: Robin Uthappa (C), KB Pawan, Ganesh Satish, Manish Pandey, R Vinay Kumar, Amit Verma, Muralidharan Gautam, Sunil Joshi, Abhimanyu Mithun, Sreenath Aravind, Balachandra Akhil, Stuart Binny, Udit Patel, KP Appanna, Aditya Sagar.
Mumbai: Wasim Jaffer (C), Ajit Agarkar, Ramesh Powar, Praful Waghela, Sahil Kukreja, Ajinkya Rahane, Prashant Naik, Usman Malvi, Vinayak Samant, Dhawal Kulkarni, Sushant Marathe, O Khanvilkar, Avishkar Salvi, Iqbal Abdulla, Abhishek Nayar.
Umpires: Amiesh Saheba, Sanjay Hazare.
Third umpire: S Ravi.
Match referee: Subramanyam Ramesh.