Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at Cricinfo
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The Ranji Trophy final between Karnataka and Mumbai will be played at the Gangotri Glades Stadium in Mysore, and not at Bangalore's Chinnaswamy Stadium. This will be the first Ranji final since 1996-97 to be held away from the primary venue of the hosting association but it's clear the hosts have decided to back their bowlers on a pitch likely to have pace and bounce.
"The centre wicket is being regrassed here [Bangalore], that's why they are not able to give us a good bouncy track," Karnataka coach Narasimha Sanath Kumar said at the Chinnaswamy Stadium soon after the semi-final against UP. "Our strength is fast bowling. It is a little difficult for the fast bowlers here and that (Mysore track) probably will be a better one."
Mysore has already hosted a league match and the quarter-final against Punjab this season, and both games drew decent crowds. Rahul Dravid, the Karnataka captain, had no apprehensions about a small city hosting perhaps the biggest match in the domestic calendar.
"I'm sure the game will be very well supported, there will be a lot of crowd on all the days," he said. "It will be a great advertisement for the game, it's a good chance to develop the infrastructure at Mysore and take the game away from the big cities and to the smaller towns, which I feel is where the future of the Ranji Trophy is."
It was Dravid's chanceless double-century that virtually shut UP out of the semi-finals, and Karnataka are still fretting over his availability for the finals, which ends on the 15th. India's first Test against Bangladesh starts two days later. Last-ditch efforts were still on to advance the final by a day, so that it finishes on the 14th, which will make it easier for Dravid to participate.
"I've had a chance to speak to the Indian team management and they expect me to be in Dhaka by the 15th evening, latest," he said. "To do that, it (the Ranji final) will probably have to be preponed by a day, if not, it may not be possible."
Dravid has only played in four of Karnataka's eight matches this season, and even without him the state has steamrolled opposition. That left coach Sanath confident, irrespective of Dravid's availability. "Obviously it'll make a big difference if he's there," Sanath said, "but we have won outright three out of the four matches when he didn't play."