Karnataka welcomes its Indian stars

Karnataka captain Vinay Kumar was pleased that Karun Nair, KL Rahul and Manish Pandey will be joining the team, saying three have performed well so far whenever they have played.

K.L. Rahul (right) and Karun Nair will return for Karnataka.   -  Vivek Bendre

The last time Karnataka and Tamil Nadu clashed in the Ranji Trophy – in the final in 2015 – the former emerged triumphant by an innings and 217 runs.

That result is not playing on Tamil Nadu skipper Abhinav Mukund’s mind. “What has happened in the past is past. We have been playing some good cricket this season. We are confident going into the match,” he said.

The 2015-16 season was forgettable for both teams; Karnataka and Tamil Nadu failed to qualify for the knock-out phase.

Abhinav said, “Last season was difficult for both teams. Tamil Nadu has come together well as a group this season. There is a lot of spirit in the side.”

He was appreciative of the bonding between the seniors and the younger bunch and had words of praise for Dinesh Karthik. “While he has made a lot of runs, the time he has spent with the younger lot sharing his knowledge has been amazing.”

On the absence of R. Ashwin and M. Vijay, Abhinav said, “We would have liked to have them. But we have been without them for so long and qualified from a tough group.”

Asked about R. Ashwin and M. Vijay not playing the game, Karnataka skipper Vinay Kumar replied, “We are looking at our game-plan, what we can do and not at the opposition.”

Vinay said his team was taking one game at a time. “Tamil Nadu is a good side but we are not putting pressure on ourselves. We will take it as just another match.”

He was pleased about K.L. Rahul, Karun Nair and Manish Pandey joining the side. “Whenever they have played for Karnataka this season, they have made runs. It is good to have them,” Vinay said.

Vinay was happy with his own bowling this season. “Age is only a number. I am only 32. I am knocking on the doors to the Indian team. I have been bowling with more pace and control.”