Ranji Trophy: Tamil Nadu banking on collective effort

The story of Tamil Nadu’s journey this season so far has been that in every match a new player has thrown his hand up and taken charge when the situation demanded.

Against Bengal, it was the lower order batting by pacers Aswin Crist (left) and K. Vignesh that helped the team take the crucial first-innings lead.   -  S. Dinakar

The story of Tamil Nadu’s journey this season so far has been that in every match a new player has thrown his hand up and taken charge when the situation demanded.

In this match, it was the lower order batting by pacers Aswin Crist and K. Vignesh that helped the team take the crucial first-innings lead.

Vignesh, playing in his debut season, has already been impressive with ball with 26 wickets from five matches and is the side’s leading wicket-taker so far including four-wickets in the first innings.

When he walked into bat at 303 for eight, joining Aswin Crist who was striking the ball cleanly, Vignesh’s role was to hold one end up.

Speaking about his innings, Vignesh said, “In this team it is a given that the tailenders have to contribute. My plan initially was to support Crist and I was ready to take the bouncers. I did not try to score runs and just wanted to stay.”

But soon Crist departed and Vignesh had to shift gears and be the man in charge to knock off the 28 remaining runs. Fortunately for TN, Vignesh had in Natarajan, a partner whom he knew well playing for Jolly Rovers in the TNCA league. “I believed in Natrajan. I knew he can hang around and is not a liability with the bat. I knew if I flash at something and get lucky we could get close and take it from there.”

In the 100th over of the innings, Vignesh took on the bouncer from Sayan Ghosh gamely brandishing the pull shot twice and finding the boundary successfully. The first one he got it under control to the fine leg boundary while he was lucky to edge the second one over the keeper’s head. It helped moved the score from 313 to 321.

Two overs later, he slogged one over midwicket to take the score to 327 before Natarajan’s boundary helped level the scores.

Talking about his maiden domestic season, Vignesh says, “It is a great experience to be part of the State team. I have longed for this cap and it feels great to help the team take some crucial points. I am ready to show what I have got.”

Coming into the tournament, Vignesh who hails from Thiruvallur district, had a very good TNPL with Lyca Kovai Kings finishing with 11 wickets at an economy rate of just 6.42.

“Doing well in the TNPL gave me confidence coming into this. Playing a live game means you need to be able to handle pressure. Lance Klusener gave me lot of ideas on how to handle and soak up the pressure.”

Vignesh also credited the role of bowling coach L. Balaji, especially in terms of sharing his experience on how to bowl in different conditions.

He also spoke about the role of his club in his journey saying, “They (Rovers) have the best facilities and we get good exposure with lot of stars in our side like M. Vijay and Piyush Chawla. Bharat Reddy sir, who has shaped many careers, is a great asset for the State. They have been a great support.”

On the final day, he was unlucky to show only one wicket to his name even as he consistently beat the batsmen and found the edges on numerous occasions only to see it go between fielders. But, deservedly, he was adjudged man of the match.