Tamil Nadu’s challenge ended in the All India Buchi Babu tournament when the TNCA XI side lost out in the semifinals against Madhya Pradesh on Tuesday.
The TNCA revived the invitational tournament in the four-day format to help the team prepare for the Ranji Trophy.
After the two league games and the semifinals, it was a mixed bag for Tamil Nadu, with just one team reaching the semifinals, while the TNCA President’s XI did not qualify for the last four.
Upon assessing the two teams’ performances, newly-appointed coach Sulakshan Kulkarni said, “The tournament was good learning for everyone on where we stand. There were some positives, and it helped us identify a good set of probable players for the Ranji Trophy. At the same time, it also showed areas we need to improve.”
The coach was all praise for standout performers like left-hand batter R. Vimal Khumar, who made a 144 against Railways and left-arm spinner S. Ajith Ram, who scalped 16 wickets against Chhattisgarh (7/96 & 9/72), albeit in a losing cause. “Ajith was the standout player for us. He is one of the country’s best left-arm spinners, and accuracy is his strength. More importantly, he makes things happen on a good batting pitch.”
Washington Sundar’s century was the highlight in the semifinals, and Kulkarni said, “Playing at number three, he showed great maturity and character over the last two days. He batted responsibly and is a great option for us at the top of the order.”
The coach also said he was pleased with the performance of some of the pacers, an area where the team has historically struggled. “Sandeep Warrier was in a great rhythm, and the likes of M. Mohammed, V.P. Diran and Ajay Krishnan also did well.”
Though there were some bright spots with spirited individual performances, the team failed to seize the moment, especially in the match against Chhattisgarh in Coimbatore. Chasing 265, the TNCA President’s XI bungled the reply and a chance to be in the semifinals, losing by 74 runs.
When asked about the loss, Kulkarni conceded, “Yes, we should have batted better. Our batters need to work on the tactical and mental side, showing more hunger for success.”
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