February 25 - March 1, 2015
Start time: 09.30 IST
Not often do two teams square off against each other twice in three weeks in India's premier domestic championship. But more than the change of venue - from the Wankhede Stadium on the Queen's Necklace of Mumbai to the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in the Garden City of Bangalore - there will be a sea of change in the morale of the two teams going into match.
Three weeks ago, Mumbai entered into the game against the defending champions as rank outsiders. But the semi-finals would be more of a clash of equals between two of the most highly celebrated domestic teams.
When you look at the team sheets, Karnataka are still firm favourites, but considering the manner in which Mumbai have turned around what had been a miserable season till four weeks ago, into possibly a very memorable one, the 40-time champions can't be taken lightly. Moreover, their remarkable 204-run victory after being bowled out for 156 on the first day against a star-studded Delhi line-up in the quarter-final has shown that Mumbai can thrive when tagged as underdogs.
The conditions will make the game an interesting affair, with the Chinnaswamy wicket appearing greener than usual. As a result, Mumbai are unlikely to miss off-spin of Akshay Girap, who had to be pulled out after suffering an accident while riding a bike. Karnataka, on the other hand, have no fitness issues and are confident of getting closer to retaining the trophy.
In the spotlight
Following a marathon 337 against Uttar Pradesh, which was the highest score by a Karnataka batsman in the Ranji Trophy, KL Rahul was rested when the team conceded the first-innings lead in Mumbai earlier this month. Come Wednesday, and the India Test opener will be gunning to emulate his 2014 feat - he won the Man-of-the-Match award - against the same opponents at the same venue.
Aditya Tare has had a dream run as captain so far. In the three matches he has led, Mumbai have won two and then earned the first-innings lead in the third. He has not only been reliable with the gloves but has also stepped up his performances with the bat, having scored 285 runs in his last six innings compared to 199 in nine before taking over the reins. If Tare continues in the same vein, Mumbai will fancy their chances of pulling off another upset.
Karnataka: R Vinay Kumar R (capt), CM Gautam C M (vice-capt, wk), Robin Uthappa, R Samarth, Manish Pandey, KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Shreyas Gopal, Udit Patel, A Mithun, S Aravind, HS Sharath, J Suchith, Shishir Bhavane and Kunal Kapoor.
Mumbai: Aditya Tare (Captain), Abhishek Nayar, Suryakumar Yadav, Shreyas Iyer, Siddhesh Lad, Sufian Shaikh, Shardul Thakur, Nikhil Patil, Akhil Herwadkar, Shrideep Mangela, Wilkin Mota, Tushar Deshpande, Harmeet Singh, Balwinder Singh Sandhu and Mairaj Khan.
Stats and trivia
- Karnataka's 160-run victory against Mumbai last season was their first against the domestic powerhouse. In their 23 matches against Mumbai (including seven as Mysore), Karnataka have lost 10 and drawn 12.
- During the quarter-final against Delhi, Shardul Thakur became the first Mumbai bowler since 1996-97 to earn five five-wicket hauls in a season. His match-haul of eight wickets also placed him joint second in the list of highest wicket-takers of the season, just four behind the leader D Siva Kumar of Andhra.
"Our motto is to win the game. Karnataka have been doing well over the last two seasons and they are a very balanced side. They are playing at their home. So, the pressure is on them than us. We are still a very young side, so the entire pressure is on Karnataka to do well."
Aditya Tare, Mumbai captain
"It has not surprised us the way Mumbai turned it around after a tough beginning. Mumbai is a top class side. It's not for nothing they are 40-time champions. The name itself is enough for them to perform, as big teams play well in big matches."
R Vinay Kumar, Karnataka captain
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo