Aushik dropped from TN Ranji probables

The failure to bowl Tamil Nadu to victory on a dusty, wearing last day pitch against Mumbai in the Ranji semifinals last season went against Aushik.

Although Tamil Nadu’s Aushik Srinivas picked up 20 wickets last Ranji season, the spinner was dropped as the selectors felt he failed to slip into the role of a strike bowler when the conditions favoured him.   -  V. GANESAN

The decision to drop experienced left-arm spinner Aushik Srinivas from the list of Tamil Nadu probables for the Ranji season was not an easy one, according to reliable sources.

It is believed the selectors and the coaching staff debated long and hard before axing Aushik. “It was a tough call,” said the source.

This newspaper has learnt that the selectors wanted more from Aushik. Although, he picked up 20 wickets last Ranji season, the selectors wanted him to slip into the role of a strike bowler when the conditions favoured him.

The failure to bowl Tamil Nadu to victory on a dusty, wearing last day pitch against Mumbai in the Ranji semifinals last season went against Aushik. “In 51 first class matches, Aushik has only two five-wicket hauls. We want our strike spinner to be more dominant, not be restrictive alone,” said the source.

Young left-arm spinner Sai Kishore is seen by many as an attacking bowler with turn and bounce. “He has the ability to run through sides,” said the source.

And Rahil Shah, the senior left-arm spinner in the side, is someone who can exploit pitches that lend him some assistance.

Spin attack has been an area of concern for the team and off-spinners Malolan Rangarajan and Washington Sundar, an all-rounder to boot, too could be in for a lot of bowling this season with the home and away format returning. “Washington lends balance to the side,” the source said.

Tamil Nadu will be without key paceman Aswin Crist, down with a back injury, both at the conditioning camp beginning at Dehradun next week, and the first few Ranji games. “Crist will be out of action for at least eight weeks. We hope the others step up in his absence,” said the source.

And last season’s Ranji skipper Abhinav Mukund, recovering from illness, has been given the option of missing the camp in order to become match fit.

There are several new names among the probables. Among them is the young opening batsman K. Mukunth. Also getting look-ins are left-handed top-order batsmen Pradosh Ranjan Paul and K. Vishal Vaidya.

And stroke-maker Anirudh Sita Ram, who has shifted loyalties from Hyderabad, has got the selectors’ nod. Young and talented S. Radhakrishnan also finds himself in the mix.

The influential Dinesh Karthik and India under-19 cricketer S. Lokeshwar are the two wicket-keeper batsmen. Others such as R. Rohit, who smashed a century in TNPL, are likely to be considered for the shorter formats.

All-rounder J. Kousik is also back in favour. “He has been batting well and bowling a lot better in the league,” the source said.

Like Abhinav, the State skipper for the shorter formats in the season gone by, Vijay Shankar, is recuperating from fitness issues.

An interesting inclusion is that of V. Lakshmanan, a tall paceman with some speed and natural bounce. “He has demanded attention with his bowling in the league. He has some handy qualities as a paceman,” said the source.

The Ranji captain will be announced by September 30. By then, the fitness status of all the cricketers will be known.