Ranji Trophy: Battle of equals as TN clashes with Bengal

Bengal has six points from three games and Tamil Nadu five from three in Elite Group `B’. For both the teams, there is plenty to play for.

(From left) Tamil Nadu's Vignesh, M. Mohammed , T. Natarajan and J. Kaushik during a training session on the eve of their team's match against Bengal at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Tuesday.   -  R. Ragu

The Tamil Nadu versus Bengal Ranji Trophy duels have invariably been combative, producing fortune swings and throwing up thrilling finishes.

It promises to be no different this time when the two sides clash from Wednesday on a dry Chepauk surface that could develop cracks as the game unfolds.

Bengal has six points from three games and Tamil Nadu five from three in Elite Group `B’. For both the teams, there is plenty to play for.

Tamil Nadu’s start has been rocky. The bowling, unless the conditions are helpful, has lacked incision. Simply put, the various arms of the Tamil Nadu team have not been moving in cohesion. 

Read: Confident Kerala takes on balanced Madhya Pradesh

Skipper Baba Indrajith has been consistent with the willow but needs the bowlers to lift their game — without control over line and length, variations mean nothing.

Abhinav Mukund and wicket-keeper batsman N. Jagadeesan have notched up hundreds this season, but the other batsmen need to step up.

Seamer M. Mohammad, a skiddy customer, has been the standout performer with 11 wickets at 24.54. The lively T. Natarajan, lending left-arm variety, is likely to partner Mohammad with the host likely to play only two specialist pacemen with all-rounder J. Kousik chipping in.

Tamil Nadu could field two spinners on this track with Rahil Shah teaming up with fellow left-armer Sai Kishore.

Or given the presence of five left-handers in the Bengal line-up, the home team might employ C.V. Varun who has the ability to turn the ball past the southpaws.

Also read: Depleted bowling attack a worry for Delhi

For Bengal, skipper Manoj Tiwari has sizzled so far with 352 run at 117.33. But the side will be without the consistent top-order batsman Abhimanyu Easwaran, away in New Zealand with the India `A’ team. The visitor will seek runs from the solid Abhishek Raman.

Bengal has a testing new ball pair of Ashoke Dinda and Ishan Porel. And Aamir Gani is a useful off-spinning all-rounder.  

Batting first should be the right ploy on this track.

Teams

Tamil Nadu: B. Indrajith (captain), Abhinav Mukund, Kaushik Gandhi, B. Aparajith, N. Jagadesan (wk), B. Anirudh, J. Kousik, M. Mohammad, Sai Kishore, Rahil Shah, T. Natarajan, K. Vignesh, C.V. Varun, R. Rohit (wk), Abhishek Tanwar and Shahrukh Khan.

Bengal: Manoj Tiwari (captain), Abhishek Raman, Sudip Chatterjee, Koushik Ghosh, Anustup Mazumdar, Writtick Chatterjee, Shreevats Goswami (wk), Purab Joshi, Aamir Gani, Pradipta Pramanik, Ashoke Dinda, Ishan Porel, Mukesh Kumar, Vivek Singh and Shahbaz Ahmed.