Match factsFebruary 5-9, 2009
The Big Picture
The Duleep Trophy semi-finals ended in comprehensive wins for both finalists, but West Zone have more reasons for concern ahead of the big clash. None of their batsmen managed to score a century against East Zone - despite their prolific run in the Ranji Trophy - and some lacklustre fielding ended up delaying their semi-final victory. Wasim Jaffer, the West captain, admitted his side was poor in the field; he dropped two easy chances at slip himself. Parthiv Patel was the worst offender, putting down three catches behind the wickets and missing an easy stumping.
South Zone boast a better team on paper, even in the absence of VVS Laxman, and their top order is in excellent form, with S Badrinath, Rahul Dravid and Robin Uthappa scoring centuries in their team's demolition of North Zone. Dinesh Karthik was among the runs in the previous game against Central Zone, scoring a hundred in each innings . The pitch at the Chidambaram Stadium is likely to be batsman-friendly as always.
South are without L Balaji - who has replaced an injured Munaf Patel in Sri Lanka - but will be buoyed by the return of Sreesanth and opener Murali Vijay, who needs a big score to make it to the Indian Test squad for New Zealand. Goa medium-pacer Robin D'Souza takes Balaji's place but is unlikely to play.
South (probable): 1 Abhinav Mukund, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Rahul Dravid, 5 S Badrinath (captain), 6 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 7 R Ashwin, 8 M Suresh, 9 Shadab Jakati, 10 Sreesanth, 11 R Vinay Kumar.
Considering batting is the key, West are likely to revert to the five-bowler strategy, including two spinners this time after playing an extra seamer in the semi-final. Ramesh Powar, who was dropped against East, is likely to replace left-arm fast man Samad Fallah, who was erratic in the previous game.
West (probable): 1 Wasim Jaffer (capt), 2 Bhavik Thaker, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 Cheteshwar Pujara, 5 Parthiv Patel, 6 Abhishek Nayar, 7 Kedar Jadhav, 8 Ramesh Powar, 9 Dhawal Kulkarni, 10 Rajesh Pawar, 11 Siddarth Trivedi.
"There are a few players - Jaffer, Patel, Ajinkya Rahane, Dhawal Kulkarni - who want to move to the next level which will only help us to match the opposition."
Praveen Amre, the West coach, feels his players are hungry for success, despite South having a better team "on paper".
"Obviously, we will miss Balaji, but we are planning to go in with five bowlers and if our batting fires, then we would be in a strong position. The pitch looks dry and is likely to take turn as the match progresses."
S Badrinath, the South captain, chalks out his plan for the final.