Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Tamil Nadu faces stiff Punjab challenge in Mohali

For Tamil Nadu, the good news is that Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar, who played a match each before being summoned for India duty, will be available to boost the team.

Dinesh Karthik's availability will be a boost for Tamil Nadu.   -  PTI

Rain and chill greeted the Tamil Nadu team at the PCA Stadium ahead of the crucial Ranji Trophy match against Punjab. It is crunch game for the teams, both having underperformed in the season thus far.

For Tamil Nadu, the good news is that Dinesh Karthik and Vijay Shankar, who played a match each before being summoned for India duty, will be available to boost the team.

“They are much-needed at this stage,” remarked Tamil Nadu skipper Baba Indrajith, who, along with brother Aparajith, has been a regular feature in boosting the team’s batting structure.

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 “We have progressed well with the presence of lot of youngsters. We have to build a new team and I am glad we are going to have Karthik and Vijay for this match. Their experience will mean a lot to the team,” said Indrajith.

Tamil Nadu suffered from unfinished first innings against Madhya Pradesh and Hyderabad. “That hurt,” observed coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar.

“We did well against Andhra but lost a close game against Bengal. It is to the team’s credit that it recovered and beat Kerala in previous game. We are out of our comfort zone and I am sure the players would use their experience to tackle the conditions here.”

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Tamil Nadu, even without Murali Vijay, R. Ashwin and Washington Sundar, has the depth to pull off a win against Punjab. M. Shahrukh Khan is a bright prospect. His unbeaten 92 against Kerala in a winning cause with brilliant knocks of 87 and 92 by Indrajith confirming the latter’s potential speaks for the team’s batting strength. It will, however, be tested severely over the next four days.

The green tinge on the pitch should prepare the batsmen on either side for a grim contest. Tamil Nadu would be on the toes if the Punjab team management can convince Siddharth Kaul to be available for the match.

Kaul returns this evening from New Zealand and jet-lag issues may confront him even though Shubhman Gill and Anmolpreet Singh, his colleagues in the India A team, have confirmed their presence for the match.

“We need our best on the field tomorrow. It is going to be a good contest,” said Punjab coach Rajdeep Kalsi. For skipper Mandeep Singh, the challenge would be to make the most against a strong opposition.

“Shubhman and Anmolpreet are a big plus for this match. I hope Siddharth is available,” said Mandeep, who helped Punjab win against Delhi. Barinder Sran is on standby if Kaul does not play.

Punjab has added Manpreet Gony and plan to add Gurkeerat Singh to bolster the batting. Yuvraj Singh did not attend the practice on Thursday but will bring in his experience to guide the young Punjab side.

The teams:

Tamil Nadu: B. Indrajith (Captain), Dinesh Karthik, Abhinav Mukund, Vijay Shankar, M. Kaushik Gandhi, B. Aparajith, N. Jagadeesan, M. Mohammed, J. Kousik, M. Shahrukh Khan, S. Abhishek Tanwar, R. Sai Kishore, K. Vignesh, T. Natarajan.

Punjab: Mandeep Singh (Captain), Yuvraj Singh, Shubhman Gill, Anmolpreet Singh, Jiwanjyot Singh, Abhishek Gupta, Abhishek Sharma, Sandeep Sharma, Manpreet Gony, Sanvir Singh, Baltej Singh, Vinay Choudhary, Siddharth Kaul, Barinder Sran, Arpit Pannu and Gurkeerat Singh.