Kolkata: India's old warhorses like Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh will be seen in action as 10 teams in two groups clash each other in the Super League stage of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy T20 tournament beginning on Sunday.
The premier names to be seen in action for their respective sides include the World Cup winning quartet of Gambhir, Yuvraj, Suresh Raina and Harbhajan who have been out of reckoning for the national team for some time.
Gambhir was conspicuous by his absence during Delhi's training session at the Eden Gardens and the manager informed the media that the left-handed opener will join the team on Saturday.
While Raina will be returning to Chennai Super Kings in the upcoming IPL season, Gambhir, Yuvraj and Harbhajan, who will go under the hammer in the IPL auction on 27-28 January, will look to make it count in the Mushtaq Ali Trophy.
Off-spinner Harbhajan, who has been released by Mumbai Indians after playing for the side since IPL's inception in 2008, will lead the challenge for Punjab in Group A which also has Karnataka, Jharkhand, Mumbai and Rajasthan.
Ten teams are divided into two groups in the Super League stage and the top two sides will play in the summit clash at Eden Gardens on 27 October.
Punjab won three matches, including a two-run humdinger against table toppers Delhi, to finish second in North Zone. The Punjab skipper, Harbhajan batted and bowled in a rigorous training session for about two hours alongside another veteran Yuvraj Singh as their intent was clear.
"We have done really well in Delhi, it's about shifting focus to the Super League stage here. It's always good to see a lot of young and exciting talents coming up. It's good to compete with them," Harbhajan said.
"Like any other cricketer, I also wish to do well and make a case for myself. Definitely I see this as a chance. It will be nice to win the Trophy," he said.
Four matches will be played everyday in two venues of Eden Gardens and Jadavpur University second campus at Salt Lake in a round robin format that will go on till 25 January. Punjab will face South Zone toppers Karnataka, while Jharkhand will take on Mumbai in the opening day's fixtures at Jadavpur University.
All eyes at Eden Gardens will be on two-time IPL winning skipper Gambhir who has been released by his franchise Kolkata Knight Riders. The Delhi player, who has a base price of Rs 2 crore alongside Harbhajan and Yuvraj Singh in the IPL auction, will look to impress alongside Rishabh Pant.
Pant, the dashing Delhi wicket-keeper batsman, smashed a 32-ball century against Himachal Pradesh and he's the leading run-getter with 278 under his belt with an astounding strike rate of 210.60.Delhi will open their campaign against Tamil Nadu, while home side Bengal will face Baroda in the two fixtures at Eden Gardens.
For Karnataka, Karun Nair, who is second in the run chart with 236, will be the one to watch out for.
Bengal's Shreevats Goswami too is back among the runs, aggregating 232 with the help of three half centuries and the diminutive wicket-keeper batsman will look to continue his purple patch ahead of the IPL auction.
Super League Groups:
Group A: Punjab, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Mumbai, Rajasthan
Group B: Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Bengal, Baroda, Uttar Pradesh.
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He scored most of the runs on the off-side and asked about it, Shaw said, "On this wicket especially when the spinner is bowling it wasn't coming very nicely onto the bat. It was stopping a little."
Foreign players, who were already anxious about getting home with travel restricted from India, are a more worried lot.
The BCCI was forced to suspend the lucrative T20 tournament indefinitely midway into the season after multiple cases of the dreaded virus were reported inside the bio-bubble.