Vijay Hazare Trophy: Desperate Tamil Nadu takes on confident Mumbai

The host, the defending champion, is in trouble after two games while Mumbai will enter the contest with confidence, having pocketed eight points from two matches.

Tamil Nadu needs a win and will require big efforts from its two India stars R. Ashwin and M. Vijay in a crunch game.   -  R. RAGU

There is always an added edge to the occasion when Mumbai and Tamil Nadu clash. It’s a marquee duel, across formats, and the cricketing temperatures do rise.

The history between the two sides has been such. There have been some close encounters, several nerve-jangling moments, and a few heated exchanges as the fortunes fluctuated.

It’s traditionally been a match-up where the protagonists’ temperament is put to test, not just their skill. On many occasions, Mumbai’s mental toughness has seen it through.

Tamil Nadu, however, will want to write its own script this time when the two teams meet in a crucial Vijay Hazare one-day tournament match at the Kalpathi-SSN College ground here on Thursday.

TN desperate for a win

The host, the defending champion, is in trouble after two games. Tamil Nadu’s batting, rather inexplicably, collapsed against Goa to leave the side bleeding with just four points from two games.

Mumbai has eight from two and will enter the tussle with confidence. The side’s batting has been firing – there have been centuries from mainstays Suryakumar Yadav and Siddhesh Lad while Jay Bista and Aditya Tare too have sizzled.

Tamil Nadu needs a win and will require big efforts from its two India stars R. Ashwin and M. Vijay in a crunch game.

Tamil Nadu, so far, has not played like a cohesive unit. The batsmen have to take responsibility, consolidate before opening out, while the bowling requires a greater incision.

Paceman K. Vignesh has recovered from a viral fever and should come in for all-rounder J. Kousik. And Tamil Nadu could go in for an additional batsman in Anirudh Sitaram for pace-bowling all-rounder V. Yo Mahesh.

Seamer Aswin Crist has bowled well on return from injury while off-spinners Ashwin – he won’t be available for the match against Andhra on February 11 owing to personal reasons - and Washington Sundar has been steady.

Against Mumbai’s strong batting, the Tamil Nadu bowling will need an aggressive mindset; picking wickets is the best method to check run-rate.

Coming to batting, Kaushik Gandhi and Vijay Shankar notched up centuries against Gujarat but the home side, after a sound start, lost its way against Goa’s none-to-threatening bowling.

Paceman Dhawal Kulkarni apart, the Mumbai attack lacks experience and the Tamil Nadu batsmen could target a few names here.

But then, the Mumbai bowling has often, with old-fashioned virtues of discipline and building pressure, dented batting line-ups.

There could be some assistance for the pacemen in the first hour and chasing could be the better option. If the triumphant India under-19 captain Prithvi Shaw reaches here on time, he will play.

Meanwhile, all is set for the showdown under the sun.

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