Advantage Baroda as UP eye third T20 cup win
With their superior all-round strength, Baroda appear to hold a slight edge over unbeaten Uttar Pradesh and seem well-poised to grab their third Mushtaq Ali Trophy when the two teams clash under lights in the final of the domestic T20 competition here on Wednesday.
Baroda have lost two games out of 9 in the competition - to Delhi in the Preliminary League stage and then to Kerala in the Super League - this season, while UP have won all their 8 matches thus far.
But man-to-man Baroda seem to hold the advantage over their rivals, in both batting and bowling, in the summit contest at the Wankhede Stadium.
All rounders Hardik Pandya, who will leave for Australia on January 22 to join the Indian team ahead of the T20 series Down Under, and India discard Irfan Pathan, the team skipper, have been in the forefront of Baroda's campaign.
Pandya has shone more with the bat, amassing 364 runs including two whirlwind, six-hitting knocks against Delhi and Vidarbha, while also grabbing nine wickets in nine games.
Left-handed Pathan, on the other hand, has impressed more with the ball by grabbing 16 wickets in nine games in which he has totalled 190 runs.
Both these players have been crucial to the progress of Baroda who, however, would expect a bit more from two other all-rounders -- Deepak Hooda and Yusuf Pathan. Both have failed to prosper so far.
Baroda, champions in 2011-12 and 2013-14, also have a capable spinner in Bhargav Bhatt, and give the appearance of a well-balanced outfit.