Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar was bullish of a good performance from his team when TN meets Gujarat in its opening Vijay Hazare Trophy match at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Thursday.
After a gruelling training session that went on for more than a couple of hours under cloudy skies, Kanitkar said the team has left no stone unturned in preparing for the season. "We are well prepared. We have covered major aspects like batting, bowling, fielding drills in the last few days. The players have had adequate rest after the VAP Trophy too and all of us are in good shape. We are looking forward to tomorrow," the coach said.
The coach said his team was keen to implement the learnings from the last season to avoid any heartbreaks. "What the last season has taught us is, when we play as a team we win and when we don't we lose. So, that is the difference. The skills of individual players have always been very high and they are capable players. Unless, we play as a team, we are not getting any results. It is simple.
"We have to learn to work as a team; to look after the person who is playing with you; to look after the person next to you. If I can take care of my partner and he can take care of me, the entire team will prosper. Last year, that is where we fell short. We cannot be selfish about what we want. It is about the team first," Kanitkar explained.
Captain Vijay Shankar concurred with his coach and said he was looking forward to being a better player and help his team. "For the last couple of seasons, I felt I have improved as a player and leading a side like Tamil Nadu has been a huge learning curve. I think of learning from every net session or match that I play, so this quality is something which helped me to get better as a player. This year, I look to get better as a player and contribute more for the team's cause," he added.
Vijay Shankar said adjusting to the conditions and adapting quickly would be the key to Tamil Nadu's fortunes against Gujarat. "The wicket looks good. It might help the spinners for sure. This is a new wicket. I haven't played here for a long time now, the VAP Trophy final was on a different wicket. It is going to be an interesting start for us. We need to assess the conditions quickly and adapt," he added.
Tamil Nadu looks formidable with Abhinav Mukund, Baba Aparajith — who is back after nursing a calf injury — Baba Indrajith, Kaushik Gandhi, N. Jagadeesan and the skipper himself spearheading the batting unit.
T. Natarajan will lead the bowling attack with K. Vignesh, M. Mohammed, spinners C.V. Arun, R. Sai Kishore and Rahil S. Shah for assistance. The coach and the skipper said a lot of thought will go into selecting the playing XI on Thursday morning." Both of us will involve ourselves in team selection and arrive at a unanimous decision. We will give reasons on why we need to include a player and where he fits in the scheme of things," Kanitkar added.
With a full squad available for Vijay Shankar, Tamil Nadu would hope to start the domestic season on a high.