Ranji Trophy: Tamil Nadu searches for positive start with full-strength squad

The team hopes to "switch on from the first ball" when it takes on Madhya Pradesh on Wednesday.

M. Vijay (left) and R. Ashwin, among other players with international experience, will be available for their State side for a limited period.   -  K. Pichumani

Despite possessing a good infrastructure and grassroots cricket apparatus, success in the country’s premier domestic competition — the Ranji Trophy — has been hard to come by for Tamil Nadu (TN). The State has managed just two titles in the competition.

The team has struggled to string together consistent seasons; one good season is usually followed by a lean one.

Two years ago, TN won the Vijay Hazare Trophy and the Deodhar Trophy; it had also reached the semifinals of the Ranji Trophy. However, last year, the team crashed out in the group stages without posting a single outright win. As it hopes to end a 31-year wait, TN will hope to take some inspiration from this see-saw trend and pray the season that starts here at the NPR College Grounds on Thursday against Madhya Pradesh (MP) goes on to be a fruitful one.

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After a poor outing at the Vijay Hazare Trophy last month, TN will hope for a fresh start for the rest of the domestic season under new captain B. Indrajith.

Fortunately for the young skipper, he will have the presence of four India internationals in R. Ashwin, M. Vijay, Abhinav Mukund and Vijay Shankar for the first match to help him. Speaking on Wednesday, Indrajith said, “It is a fresh season. We start with four internationals for this game. Later on, they won't be there so we have to adapt and there will be a lot changes to our setup. So when they are here we have to make full use of it.”

Looking for a positive start

The team has struggled to start the tourney well in the past, taking time to find its feet in the competition. It is a problem the skipper wants to rectify. “It is there in the back of my mind. I think the main reason is awareness in switching on from the first ball. Sometimes what happens, we go with the flow and react after the first day. So it is important to stay aware of these things.”

Though the presence of internationals gives weight to the side, the team is thin of fast bowling resources with injuries to three of its premier fast bowlers. The team has options in Mohammed, J. Kousik, R. Rohit and Abhishek Tanwar to support Vijay Shankar, but the main responsibility will lie on Ashwin.

The pitch during the Duleep Trophy had a lot of help for the spinners and it is expected to be on similar lines.

MP, led by Naman Ojha, too, had a poor Vijay Hazare Trophy and will look for a fresh start. While the visitors may not have big names, they have some promising players like Rajat Patidar and Avesh Khan alongside the experienced Ishwar Pandey to provide resistance to TN.