Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan have played pivotal roles for Baroda this season    AFP (File Image)
Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Pathan have played pivotal roles for Baroda this season AFP (File Image)

As the Vijay Hazare Trophy 2017 reaches the business end, the stakes have gone up. After the thrilling games in the group stages, the penultimate stage will be underway. Baroda, Tamil Nadu, Bengal and Jharkhand are the four teams who will fight in the semi-finals to seal a spot in the final Indian domestic spectacle. Tamil Nadu will now face a stern test against Baroda in the first semi-final at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on March 16. However, Baroda had thwarted Karnataka in the first quarter-final by 7 wickets, whereas Tamil Nadu registered a 5-wicket victory over Gujarat to book their places in the semis. So let s take a look at what can be likely XI for both teams for the first semi-final:

Top order: For Baroda, Kedar Devdhar and Aditya Waghmode have been in phenomenal form. Both these batsmen have given their team the much-required start in the majority of the season. In the previous game against Karnataka, Devdhar top-scored with 78 runs, but Waghmode could not capitalise on his start getting out of 28. But both these players have good understanding between them and hence they should open the Baroda innings again in the first semi-final, while Krunal Pandya will walk in at No. 3 as he has been the best player for Baroda with both bat and ball.

For Tamil Nadu, Kaushik Gandhi and Ganga Sridhar Raju will open the innings. Raju was in a superfluous touch scoring 85 in the quarterfinal game against Gujarat. Gandhi has carried on with his classic touch from Ranji Trophy 2017, continuing to score runs in a flurry. Baba Aparajith should walk in at No. 3 for Tamil Nadu. Aparajith has been in phenomenal form this season right from Tamil Nadu Premier League to Ranji Trophy and now in Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Middle order: Deepak Hooda, Yusuf Pathan, skipper Irfan Pathan and Pinal Shah form the core for Baroda. The Pathan brothers have been the anchors for Baroda, with their efforts both with bat and ball. Hooda and Shah will have to play their part perfectly helping out their team in crisis and putting in their best.

For Tamil Nadu, wicketkeeper-batsman Dinesh Karthik, skipper Vijay Shankar, Baba Indrajit and M Mohammad form a formidable middle-order. Karthik and Shankar have acted like an anchor for their team as they have a handful of experience in the squad.

Lower order: Swapnil Singh, Soaeb Tai, Lukman Meriwala and Atit Sheth form a strong bowling line-up for Baroda. Meriwala and Sheth have been right on the money with their fast-bowling, whereas Singh and Tai have been able to control their opposition with the wily spin. In addition to this, having the Pathan brothers to share the bowling attack has brought more variety to the Baroda bowling.

For Tamil Nadu, Washington Sundar, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore, Rahil Shah and Aswin Crist have been lethal with their bowling. Sundar has emerged as an excellent bowler in this tournament getting wickets at the crucial juncture of the game. Sai Kishore, Shah have been excellent in applying brakes to the opposition scoring in the middle-overs. These three, along with some pacers Crist, have probed the opposition right from the word go. In addition to this, their skipper Shankar, too, has been lethal with the ball.

Baroda XI – Irfan Pathan (c), Yusuf Pathan, Pinal Shah (wk), Kedar Devdhar, Aditya Waghmode, Lukman Meriwala, Deepak Hooda, Atit Sheth, Swapnil Singh, Soaeb Tai, Krunal Pandya

Tamil Nadu XI – Dinesh Karthik (wk), Baba Aparajith, Kaushik Gandhi, Vijay Shankar (c), M Mohammed, Rahil Shah, Aswin Crist, Baba Indrajith, Washington Sundar, Ganga Sridhar Raju, Ravisrinivasan Sai Kishore