Mumbai: The West Zone T20 league for the 2013-14 season, beginning here from tomorrow, would see some intense competition among five teams in their bid to advance to the inter-zonals next month.
The event, to be held at two grounds, would also help the players gear up for the upcoming IPL season 7 starting on April 16. Wankhede Stadium in South Mumbai and BKC Ground of Mumbai Cricket Association in suburban Bandra are to play host to the ten matches involving teams from Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Baroda and Saurashtra.
The tournament kicks off with the match between Gujarat and Maharashtra at BKC Ground.
Seasoned speedster Zaheer Khan would lead hosts Mumbai's campaign and the pacy and bouncy track at the Wankhede Stadium would suit him and Dhawal Kulkarni, who has recovered fully from the injury that sidelined him for the major part of the season.
Mumbai's batting also looks impressive with the under-19 batsmen Sarfraz Khan and Shreyas Iyer propping the team along with experienced Suryakumar Yadav and Abhishek Nayar, besides attacking wicketkeeper-batsman Aditya Tare.
Baroda, with the Pathan brothers - Yusuf and Irfan - in the ranks along with paceman Munaf Patel, should be a strong contender though it would miss the services of the injured Ambati Rayudu in batting. Rayudu injured his ankle when playing for West Zone in the Deodhar Trophy final yesterday in Visakhapatnam.
Gujarat will be led by keeper Parthiv Patel and has the likes of the young Jasprit Bumrah and Manpreet Juneja to bank upon.
Maharashtra, which upset Mumbai in the Ranji quarter-finals at the Wankhede Stadium in January, has the likes of Kedar Jadhav, Vijay Zol and Ankit Bawne in batting department and seasoned pacers Samad Fallah and Anupam Sanklecha to look up to.
With Cheteshwar Pujara in a fine form in the 50-over format, Jaydev Shah-led Saurashtra too look good on paper.
All the matches at the BKC Ground would be day games commencing at 10 am, while all those at Wankhede would be day/night clashes commencing at 6 pm.
The top two teams in the round robin table will qualify for the inter-zonals for the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy which is also scheduled in Mumbai from April 8.
Mar 30: Gujarat v Maharashtra at MCA BKC Ground;
Mumbai v Baroda at Wankhede Stadium.
Mar 31: Mumbai v Gujarat at MCA BKC Ground; Saurashtra
v Maharashtra, Wankhede.
Apr 2: Mumbai v Saurashtra at MCA BKC Ground; Baroda v
Gujarat at Wankhede.
Apr 3: Baroda v Saurashtra at MCA BKC Ground; Mumbai v
Maharashtra at Wankhede.
Apr 4: Baroda v Maharashtra at MCA BKC Ground;
Saurashtra v Gujarat at Wankhede.