Chennai: Zone have their nose slightly ahead as they kick off the Duleep Trophy campaign against West Zone who are missing quite a few key players due to their commitments to the India 'A' squad and the franchise competing in the Champions League Twenty20.
West Zone will be without Rohit Sharma, Cheteshwar Pujara and Abhishek Nayar to name a few in the four-day match starting here on Thursday.
West captain Wasim Jaffer, highest scorer in this tournament with 2534 runs from 29 matches, was cautious in his pre-match comments.
The seasoned right-hander said his team will concentrate on the job in hand and look to progress in the tournament.
After watching his wards train in hot and humid conditions this morning, 11-time winners South Zone coach Sunil Subramanian said, "The tournament is a great opportunity for many of the youngsters in the team."
He said he would like to go with five batsmen and as many bowlers.
South Zone, who had won the title last in 2009, clinched the trophy at the same venue beating West Zone.
Also, the tournament which used to be the main selection event for the national team in the past, has lost its sheen due to changes in the format of the biggest domestic event. Only a few players have come back to the national squad based on their performances in the Duleep Trophy in the recent past.
South have proven stars like Baba Aprajith and wicketkeeper-batsman CM Gautham of Karnataka.
While it is to be seen as to how these players are geared up for the challenges ahead, West Zone, with the experienced Jaffer and potent spinners in Rakesh Dhruv, Kamlesh Makwana and medium pacer Jaydev Unadkat, have enough firepower to counter the South Zone batting.
On arrival on Tuesday, South Zone captain Vinay Kumar, who has been included in squads for the T-20 and first three one-dayers against Australia, said, "we have a strong side and it is important to play according to the situations. The key for success will be to playing well in each session and not experimenting too much".