With half the number of games in the Toyota University Cricket Championship over, the clamour for semi-final spot from the two groups are on. The T20 championship now moves to Central India where the Captain Roop Singh Stadium, Gwalior will host its first game on Saturday, between the Western Wizards from Jiwaji University Gwalior and the Eastern Eagles from the Vir Bahadur Singh Purvanchal University, Jaunpur.
Both the Group A teams lost their opening ties to the tournament's first semi-finalist Jain University, Bengaluru. Where Gwalior lost by 39 runs at the M Chinnaswamy stadium on February 26, Jaunpur succumbed to a 130-run thrashing without a fight in the second game of the tournament. Both teams will be eager to grab a win, that will keep them alive in the tournament and with a realistic chance of making the semis.
Ferozpur-born Gwalior skipper Sohraab Dhaliwaal, who sports a handle bar moustache and loves Punjabi music, will hope to lead by example with both bat and bat, somewhat like the tournament's run-machine and Bengaluru skipper Kaunain Abbas. Dhaliwaal, carried decent form with him prior to the tournament scalping four wickets and scoring 56 runs in the quarters and semis of Rohinton Baria Trophy before the 21 runs and 1 wicket he registered in the first match.
On the other hand, Jaunpur boys from the VBS University will quickly like to forget the mauling they received at the hands of Bengaluru. Most of the Jaunpur players failed to impress on that day (February 24) as they were left dumbstruck by Abbas' unbeaten 65-ball 128. The prospect of facing a relatively weaker opposition is bound to make the VBS University lads eager to perform.
Interestingly, Gwalior and Jaunpur squared off in the quarters of the Rohinton Baria Trophy, where the Gwalior team eked out a close 15-run win at Manipal Institute of Technology Ground on January 1 and 2, this year.
One of the Jaunpur players that Gwalior team must be wary of is all-rounder Gulab Nishad. The southpaw is a dependable middle-order batsman and an economical slow left-arm bowler. Another exciting talent in the Jaunpur side is leg-spinning all-rounder Praveen Dubey, who hammered 57 and took 2 wickets against the same team in the quarters of Rohinton Baria.
Will the unheralded Jaunpur boys eye Saturday's do-or-die game as a grudge match and register first points in the tournament? We will have to wait and watch.