Vijay Hazare Trophy: TN in must-win challenge against in-form Andhra

Playing at home, defending champion Tamil Nadu was expected to progress, but, has since the first game, imploded both on and off the field.

Tamil Nadu will be without R. Ashwin who will miss the game against Andhra due to personal commitments.   -  R. RAGU

With four match days gone and three more to go, the battle for qualification from Group C in the Vijay Hazare trophy is still up for grabs even though Andhra and Mumbai have taken a march over the rest of the pack.

Playing at home, defending champion Tamil Nadu was expected to progress, but, has since the first game, imploded both on and off the field. After a comprehensive win over Gujarat in its opening fixture, TN was shocked by Goa before it lost to Mumbai and Madhya Pradesh.

On Sunday, it takes on Andhra in what is a must-win game to keep its slim hopes alive but won’t have the services of R. Ashwin who will miss this game due to personal commitments and skipper Vijay Shankar who suffered back spasms while batting on Friday. Malolan Rangarajan will replace Vijay Shankar, while B. Aparajith will lead the side.

Andhra has been unbeaten so far from its three games, getting the better of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Goa, and would hope to take advantage of TN’s poor run on Sunday.

Andhra missed out on qualifying from the South Zone inter-State T20 tournament on net run rate, losing to Karnataka and TN, and wouldn’t want to have a repeat of that.

Domestic giant Mumbai has been clinical with big wins over MP and Gujarat before prevailing over TN in a thriller. However, against Rajasthan, Mumbai failed to post enough on the board from a comfortable position and then had a forgettable day on the field. Mumbai takes on Goa first before meeting Andhra in the final game and wouldn’t want to leave it till the last game.

After its win against TN on Friday, MP too has put itself right in contention alongside Goa, with both teams on eight points with the two clashing on Sunday. A loss here will seriously hurt MP’s chances and help ease the pressure on Mumbai, Andhra and Goa.

At the bottom without a win from three matches, Gujarat will hope for some renewed inspiration from Parthiv Patel who joined the squad on Friday evening. The batting unit has depended heavily on Priyank Panchal and Bhargav Merai, while the bowlers have been largely ineffective, conceding 300-plus scores on both occasions it bowled first.

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