Ranji Round 7 Preview: TN, UP seek relief from mid-table crisis

While Tamil Nadu started with a win, and followed it up with creditable performances, including in their one-wicket loss against Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh started slowly, touched a low when they were bowled out for 58 en route to a big loss against Railways.

Rahil Shah, with 22 wickets in four games, will be Tamil Nadu's key bowler.   -  V. Ganesan

Rohan Prem (right) has been Kerala's mainstay with the bat.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

As rain marred Tamil Nadu’s chances of optimising the yield from their fixture against Andhra in Chennai in the previous round, they find themselves in the middle of the Group B table, with two wins, a narrow loss and two drawn matches.

On Saturday in Kanpur, they will face Uttar Pradesh, a team similarly placed in the table, but one which, unlike Tamil Nadu, enjoyed a fruitful outing in their last game, against Mumbai.

The teams have had opposite starts to their campaign. While Tamil Nadu started with a win, and followed it up with creditable performances, including in their one-wicket loss against Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh started slowly, touched a low when they were bowled out for 58 en route to a big loss against Railways, and followed it up with a rearguard effort to notch up a narrow win against Andhra.

None of the batsmen in either side has scored a bucketful of runs, and among bowlers, spinners Rahil Shah and Malolan Rangarajan have impressed for Tamil Nadu with 22 and 14 wickets respectively. On the contrary, Uttar Pradesh’s prolific bowlers have been seamers — Praveen Kumar and Ankit Rajpoot.

The Green Park in Kanpur will host its first Ranji game this season. Tamil Nadu will want it to be host a spin-friendly track, which may work to their advantage. In the previous game, on a spinning wicket at Chepauk, Chennai, they left out Aswin Crist, one of their main seamers. But they may not do that amid uncertainty as visitors.

Kerala desperately looking for their first win

Kerala is a team of promising youngsters. They are led by a 21-year-old Sanju Samson, whose IPL exploits helped him advertise his prodigious talent. They have Sachin Baby, another fine batsman, who is also more than handy with his off-breaks. And, there are few more players who are just a few steps into their first-class career.

For the same reason, Kerala lacks experience. And, that’s probably why they haven’t been able to get a win in this season. They are placed fifth in Group C, with four draws and a loss. And, they will be desperately seeking their first win against Goa, when the teams meet tomorrow at Porvorim.

Apart from their 30-year-old number three Rohan Prem, who has scored 650 runs in five matches (at 92.85), the team hasn’t performed exceptionally well. Their qualification for the knockout stages are in jeopardy and if they don’t win the match, the doors will be shut.

Group A

Assam vs Delhi in Guwahati

Haryana vs Odisha in Rohtak

Maharashtra vs Bengal in Pune

Vidarbha vs Team Rajasthan in Nagpur

Group B

Uttar Pradesh vs Tamil Nadu in Kanpur

Gujarat vs Madhya Pradesh in Surat

Baroda vs Punjab in Vadodara

Mumbai vs Railways in Mumbai

Group C

Tripura vs Jharkhand in Agartala

Saurashtra vs Himachal in Rajkot

Services vs Hyderabad in New Delhi

Goa vs Kerala in Porvorim