Tamil Nadu has not come close to qualifying for the knockout stages of the Ranji Trophy since the 2016-17 season when it finished as the semifinalist.
For the first time since that year, the team now has a realistic chance of making it to the next stage when it takes on a strong Jharkhand side in the final league match of the Elite Group H at the Nehru Stadium on Thursday.
Both teams are tied on six points, one behind leaders Chhattisgarh, and will be vying to come out on top and give themselves a chance to move ahead into the knockouts.
However, things are not entirely in their hands. Even an outright win with a bonus point won’t be enough for either side if Chhattisgarh manages to beat Delhi outright.
TN has been consistent in the two matches thus far by chasing a big first-innings total against Delhi to secure the lead and then was just two wickets away from getting a big win against Chhattisgarh.
The team’s batting unit seems settled as most batters have been among runs except skipper Vijay Shankar who is due for a big one.
The bowlers have managed to dismiss the top-order batters comfortably, but they have struggled against the lower order, which let the opposition off the hook.
Jharkhand meanwhile produced a sensational victory against Delhi in the final hours of the match.
The team will be a tough nut for TN as it has a good bowling attack led by left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem and a good pace attack with players such as Ashish Kumar and Sushant Mishra.
In the match against Delhi, the team was on the backfoot till the last session as the latter was cruising towards the target of 335. But Jharkhand somehow managed to hold its nerve with Nadeem chipping in with crucial wickets to help the team secure a 15-run win.
After its batters struggled in the match against Chhattisgarh, three of them made centuries against Delhi, which should give the team confidence going into this match.
Skipper Saurabh Tiwary, who missed the game against Delhi, is likely to return and bolster the batting order.
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