Vijay Hazare Trophy: TN & Rajasthan to play for pride

The two sides meet at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Wednesday. Bowling, lacking bite, has been a huge problem area for Tamil Nadu.

While Kaushik Gandhi, a compact little batsman, has chipped in with 221 runs in five innings at 44.20, he is not explosive at the top of the order.   -  R. Ragu

When there is nothing at stake, teams play for pride. You need to dig in deep to find that precious quality. Both Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan, with four and eight points from five games, are out of the Vijay Hazare one-day competition but finishing the season with a win will be a consolation of sorts for one of them.

The two sides meet at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Wednesday. Bowling, lacking bite, has been a huge problem area for Tamil Nadu. On surfaces offering less assistance, the pacemen have leaked runs.

But then, if you lack air speed, there are other effective options such as using the crease and changing the angles or bowling with a scrambled seam and getting the ball to skid off the pitch.

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And young spinners have to use their imagination. When there is less help from the pitch, revolutions on the ball, flight, spin in the air and the subsequent dip are key elements.

Even if there is little or no turn off the pitch, you can still spin the ball and beat batsmen with the dip. But you have to use your body, wrists and fingers and be a genuine spinner.

The Tamil Nadu batting has lacked solidity. The side has tended to lose wickets in bunches, the line-up has been porous. The awry pacing of the innings has haunted the host. While Kaushik Gandhi, a compact little batsman, has chipped in with 221 runs in five innings at 44.20, he is not explosive at the top of the order.

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So Kaushik’s partner needs to be someone who can strike the ball through and over the infield in the Power Play overs. However, clarity of thought has hardly been visible in Tamil Nadu’s games so far.

R. Ashwin, back from a personal visit to Dubai, will be available for the game. But then, skipper Vijay Shankar, still down with a back spasm, is unlikely to play.

Much for the home side hinges on stand-in captain Baba Aparajith and N. Jagadeesan, a compelling striker of the ball. The Tamil Nadu batsmen will be tested by the promising India under-19 paceman Kamlesh Nagarkoti. The youngster is quick through the air, hurries the batsmen and seems to have made a speedy recovery from a twisted ankle.

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The man to watch out in the Rajasthan batting is opener Amitkumar Gautam – interestingly his brother Sourav plays for MRC ‘B’ in the TNCA fourth division league – who came up with a match-winning 149 not out against Mumbai.

If Tamil Nadu, the defending champion, goes down again it could well finish as the wooden spoonist in Group ‘C.’ Simply put, pride will be at stake.