Ranji Trophy: Tamil Nadu faces Saurashtra with slim chance of reaching quarters

Mathematically it is still possible for Tamil Nadu to sneak into the quarterfinals, but it has to beat Saurashtra in the final round and needs other results to go its way.

Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu captain B. Aparajith with head coach D. Vasu (second from left) during a practice session ahead of the Ranji Trophy fixture against Saurashtra.   -  VIJAY SONEJI

The battles lost at the start of the season has made the race to the quarterfinal a tough one for Tamil Nadu. The chances are rather slim at the moment, but the team believes there is a silver lining as it takes on a strong Saurashtra outfit in a Ranji Trophy Group B clash at the SCA Stadium here from Wednesday.

Skipper B. Aparajith said mathematically Tamil Nadu is still not out of it. “We are not desperate and going to play the way we have done so far.”

In fact, the back-to-back victories with bonus points against Railways and Baroda have not only boosted Tamil Nadu's confidence, but also made it realise that all is not over yet. “We can't worry about things beyond our control, but we will keep an eye on the other teams' performances over the next few days,” said Aparajith.

Having already booked a knockout berth, Saurashtra will look to flex its muscles at home. “It’s going to be a challenge for us but we have done it in the last two matches, and will try it again and see if we can make it happen,” said the Tamil Nadu skipper.

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He admitted that the other teams in the hunt for knockout berth will carry a similar mindset. “It’s true and that's why it’s always better to push these things to the back of our mind and play for a win.”

Have the Tamil Nadu players woken up a bit too late this season? “We are not thinking about that at all. From where we were at the start of the season and coming back to fight for a place is itself a job well done. I am happy the team is doing the right things at the right time,” said Aparajith, who praised Abhinav Mukund, L. Suryapprakash, R. Sai Kishore and M. Mohammed for their performances.

He expected the pitch to be batsmen-friendly. "The wicket looks flat and dry, and the bowlers may have a hard time while the batsmen prosper. We played here three years ago against Mumbai but a lot has changed since then.”

Though Tamil Nadu needs many factors to fall into place, it will be keen to give it its all at Rajkot.

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