Rajkot:Former Indian captain Rahul Dravid starer South Zone will lock horns with North Zone in a four-day Duleep Trophy semi final starting on Thursday at Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground.
Formiddable South Zone, who had a close contest for taking first innings lead to ensure berth in semi final managed to go through by taking thin but valuable three runs first innings lead over Central Zone in quarter final played at Bangalore.
Dravid alongwith former Indian stumper Dinesh Karthik, Robin Utthappa and skipper S Badrinath would be the main stay in batting for the South Zone.
Dravid had scored 103 runs in quarter final against Central Zone while Karthik had made back to back century in both innings in the match.
However, the team will miss service of VVS Laxman who has been advised for rest after receiving ankle injury in the quarter final. S Badrinath will lead the side in the absence of Laxman.
"We will definetly be missing him (Laxman)," the south skipper said but added that the team has plenty of talent and players are able to play on any track.
Terming the ground as a lucky one for him Badrinath said that he heard of getting selected in national side first when he was playing here.
"Besides, I have scored runs and took wickets in various first class matches played here, so the ground is lucky for me but it is upto players to play good cricket" Badrinath said and added that his side is a good mixture of young and experienced players.
S Sreesanth and Laxmipathy Balaji will handle the new ball and would be supported by leg spinner M Suresh. On the other side, North Zone have no such big names and its skipper Akash Chopra also admitted that opposition has a better side.
"South has a better side on paper than us, but our players are looking forward to do well in the match," Chopra told mediapersons here.
Players selected in the team have done good job for their respective sides in the Ranji Trophy and it's easy to lead such a side, Chopra said.
Chopra, along with his Delhi team mates, Shikhar Dhavan, Virat Kohli and Sunny Sohel will be shouldering the responsibility of putting a good score on board while Medium pacers, Parvinder Awana, Manpreet Goni and Rajat Bhatia will share new ball but the North skipper will desperately be hoping a magic spell from leg spinner Amit Mishra.
"Mishra had been in national side and done well and I want him to do well and I'm sure that he will deliver his best," Chopra said.
The North captain admitted that South has an advantage of having played quarter final with kukaboora balls while his side will need some time to get used to ball.
South Zone: S Badrinath (capt), Abhinav Mukund, Robin Uthappa, Rahul Dravid, Dinesh Karthik (wk), R Ashwin, Shadab Jakati, Laxmipathy Balaji, S Sreesanth, Vinay Kumar, Saurav Babdekar, M, Suresyh and Anoop Pai.
North: Akash Chopra (cap), Amit Mishra, Shikhar Dhawan, Sangra m Singh, Sunny Sohal, R Dewan, Ankur Kakkar, Uday Kaul, Sarande ep Singh, Manpreet Gony, VS Malik, Parvinder Awana, Rajat Bhatia and S beigh.
Umpires: Sanjay Hazare and Amish Sayeba.