Sunday, November 17 will feature 16 matches of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2019-20, with three matches each in Group A and B, two in Group C, and four matches each in Group D and E.
Group A (at Visakhapatnam): Bihar v Uttarakhand, Goa vs Karnataka, Andhra vs Services
Karnataka will take on Goa in their final match, knowing a win can more or less assure them of finishing atop the table, over Baroda. Baroda have concluded their league campaign, and are currently sitting at the top of the pile with 20 points from their six matches. Karnataka need a win to match that number, but given their impressive net run-rate of 2.151, a win against Goa should see them seal that top spot.
The clash between Andhra and Services is more interesting. They need a win to reach 16 points and match Karnataka, as they are now, but will need Goa to beat Karnataka and also win their own match by such a big margin that their net run-rate is boosted. It seems a bit too far-fetched.
Uttarakhand and Bihar, the two sides at the bottom of the table, clash in the group’s other bout.
Group B (at Thiruvananthapuram): Rajasthan vs Tripura, Tamil Nadu vs Vidarbha, Kerala vs Uttar Pradesh
Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh clash in Group B to decide who finishes top. Both teams are level on 16 points at the moment, but Tamil Nadu are top with a marginally superior net run-rate of 2.699.
However, with all of Kerala, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan on 12 points, and still standing a chance to become one of the two sides qualifying for the next stage, the side losing the Tamil Nadu-Uttar Pradesh bout will be wary.
It could all come down to net-run rate.
Group C (at Chandigarh): Arunachal Pradesh vs Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh vs Hyderabad
With Punjab, Maharashtra and Railways all set to play only on Monday, Chhattisgarh will be aware they have a chance to set the early pace.
If they beat Hyderabad, they will move up to the top of the table, and the likes of Punjab, Maharashtra, and Railways – all on 16 points currently – will feel the pressure going into their clash on Monday.
On Sunday’s other match, Chandigarh will hope to secure victory over the bottom-placed Arunachal, and then it’s up to other results.
Group D (at Mumbai): Bengal vs Puducherry, Assam vs Mumbai, Haryana vs Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya vs Mizoram
Mumbai have set the early place in the group, with 20 points from their six matches. They will hope to beat Assam – they have won just one of their six matches so far – to seal the top spot.
Haryana are favourites to claim the second spot, given they hold a four-point lead over their nearest rivals Bengal, Madhya Pradesh and Puducherry. Madhya Pradesh have the best chance to draw level with Haryana, given they clash next, and should that happen, the result between Bengal and Puducherry should bring net run-rate into play.
Group E (at Surat): Delhi vs Sikkim, Gujarat vs Jharkhand, Jammu & Kashmir vs Saurashtra, Nagaland vs Odisha
The top-two in the group clash when Jharkhand take on Gujarat. Jharkhand have a two-point lead over Gujarat at the moment, so victory is imperative for Gujarat, especially given they’re currently level on 16 points with J&K and Delhi as well.
J&K’s clash with Saurashtra should be interesting. Saurashtra have been inconsistent this tournament, winning and losing three, and which side turns up against J&K could dictate the latters’ fortunes. Delhi have a seemingly easier fixture against Sikkim, who are bottom of the table with a win in six matches.
Nagaland and Odisha clash in the group’s other encounter.