Bengaluru, Feb 24: An exciting battle is on cards when a resurgent Mumbai lock horns with defending champions Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy semifinal cricket match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium here tomorrow. (Preview: Ranji Trophy SF 2: Tamil Nadu vs Maharashtra)
Sworn enemies on the cricket field, both captains Aditya Tare and R Vinay Kumar, will not spare an inch to each other.
"To be honest we have come here to win. We know Karnataka has been performing well for the past two years. They are playing at home, so obviously the pressure is on them, not us as we are a young and grooming side," Mumbai skipper Tare told reporters on the eve of the match.
However, Karnataka captain Vinay said, "We know the strengths and weaknesses of Mumbai. Though we conceded the last match to them by virtue of conceding first innings lead, we are confident of winning, we have the advantage of playing at home."
Karnataka have been unbeaten for last two years. They lost their last match against Odisha in November 2012. They have been on a roll this season also, barring a couple of hiccups when they conceded first innings lead to Mumbai at Wankhede Stadium and Baroda in Mysuru.
The hosts have rolled over all their rivals to notch up four outright wins from seven games so far. They have five batsmen who have amassed over 400 runs, including newly India-capped opener K L Rahul who comes into this game after scoring a marathon 337 against Uttar Pradesh in Bengaluru.
Apart from Rahul, others who have topped the 400-mark are all rounder Shreyas Gopal (558 runs), Robin Uthappa (517), Manish Pandey (447) and C M Gautam (400).
The hosts have a formidable batting line-up which would be hard to crack by Mumbai, who depend a lot on medium pacer Shardul Thakur (40 wickets).
Karnataka have a much superior all-round bowling attack, especially with the new ball. Vinay, Abhimanyu Mithun and left arm bowler Srinath Aravind, who have claimed over 25 wickets, have proved a handful for other teams.
Shreyas Gopal, who has been mainly picked up for bowling, has been scoring runs heavily for Karnataka with the bat. In fact, he is the second highest run-getter for Karnataka after Robin Uthappa.
"We picked up Shreyas for his bowling, but he is getting runs with the bat, which is handy and beneficial for the team," Vinay said.
'Most of thye times they go for national duties'
Mumbai's batting has slowly but surely improved and the mainstays have been Shreyas Iyer and Surya Kumar Yadav, who have cracked two tons this season.
Iyer has scored 744 runs, which also forced IPL team owners to take note of his performance, and he was bought by Delhi Daredevils for Rs 2.6 crore in players' auction, thus becoming the highest-earning uncapped player, earning 26 times his base price of Rs 10 lakh.
Tare also has a ton behind him against Baroda, which should stand him in good stead after taking over captaincy. Tare said most of the times the team miss the services of Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane because of national duties, even though the replacements come up with fine performances with the kind of professional culture Mumbai boasts of.
"Most of time they (Rohit and Rahane) go for national duties. The history of Mumbai is such that everyone who comes in is expected to do well. In that aspect we are likely to have players like Nikhil Patil who have done well. Shreyas and Surya Kumar also are doing well," Tare said.