Ranji Trophy: Tamil Nadu out to play 'aggressive cricket' despite slim qualifying chances

Ahead of its important game against Baroda, Tamil Nadu looks to play positive cricket even as chances of making it to the next round looks bleak.

Skipper Abhinav Mukund is hoping for a change in fortunes.   -  Biswaranjan Rout

Last year was a productive one for Tamil Nadu — reaching the semis of Ranji Trophy, winning the VIjay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy—and finishing second in inter-state T20 zonal stage losing out the top spot on net run rate only.

The current season was the one where the team was expected to fight hard for that elusive third title, three decades after it last won.

Instead heading into its final league game here against Baroda at the Motibaug cricket ground, the team’s chances of qualifying look slim.

While the batting has delivered in all the matches — except the first innings in the first match against Andhra— the biggest issue this season has been with the bowling department.

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K. Vignesh, the highest wicket taker for TN last year, once again has bowled impressively to pick 18 wickets so far but has lacked support from the other end. It has hurt the side in games against Andhra, Odisha and MP.

Andhra was reduced to 64 for five before getting the first innings lead, and posting 309. Similarly, MP was struggling for 76 for six before posting 264. In Cuttack, TN failed to defend 530 runs conceding the lead after being on the field for more than two days.

It is something coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar admits has hurt the side. “The one area we haven't done well this year has been the fact that we have failed to drive home the advantage. We did not take the opportunities we had and that have cost us.”

TN played an extra bowler in the last match and it will be interesting to see if it replaces Vijay Shankar with a batsman or another all-rounder like J. Kousik considering the conditions could favour the pacers.

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Skipper Abhinav said, “We have to play aggressive cricket and that's what we will try to do. This is one ground where there have been a lot of outright results in the past and where we as a team have also had good results.”

After a slow start, Baroda has hit form in its last three matches, almost pulling off a big win against Mumbai, and would be a tough opponent for Tamil Nadu. On ten points, one behind TN, Baroda also has an outside chance of qualifying with a big win.

Even though wins alone won't guarantee a quarterfinal berth for either side, it should at least guarantee some aggressive and exciting cricket.

The Squads

Tamil Nadu: Abhinav Mukund (captain), B. Aparajith, B. Indrajith, N. Jagadeesan, M. Kaushik Gandhi, M.S. Washington Sundar, V. Ganga Sridhar Raju, V. Yo Mahesh, R. Rohit, K. Vignesh, M. Mohammed, R. Malolan, R. Sai Kishore, D.T. Chandrasekar, S. Lokeshwar, J. Kousik

Baroda: Deepak Hooda (Captain), Kedar Devdhar, Aditya Waghmode, Vishnu Solanki, Swapnil Singh, Atit Sheth, Mitesh Patel, Lukman Meriwala, Abhijeet Karambelkar, Kartik Kakade, Noor Ahmed Pathan, Dhruv Patel, Vijay Halai, Akshay Brahmbhatt, Rudresh Waghela.