Ranji Trophy: Tamil Nadu takes on Vadodara with quarterfinal spot at stake

With just 12 points from six matches, TN has very slim chances of qualifying and needs to win its upcoming matches with a bonus point (an innings victory or a 10-wicket win).

The absence of left-arm pacer T. Natarajan is a big blow for Tamil Nadu.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

After a two-week break, a refreshed Tamil Nadu takes on Baroda here at the Motibaug cricket ground from Tuesday in the penultimate round of the Ranji Trophy group stages.

With just 12 points from six matches, TN has very slim chances of qualifying and needs to win its upcoming matches with a bonus point (an innings victory or a 10-wicket win).

So far, Andhra leads the combine Elite Group A & B table with 27 points from six matches, followed by Gujarat, Saurashtra and Karnataka — each one point behind the other.

This means TN can, at best, reach 26 points — if it manages 14 from its next two games.

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TN had a comprehensive innings victory over Railways in its last match with the spinners delivering. But away from home, it doesn’t have the same pace bowling fire-power to be a serious threat. The absence of left-arm pacer T. Natarajan is a big blow as well and it will be interesting to see if right-arm pacer R.S. Jaganath Srinivas makes his debut.

“We did well to get a big win in the last match and just want to build on it in the next two games by continuing to play the same positive cricket,” said TN coach D. Vasu.

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Better placed

Meanwhile, Baroda is slightly better placed with 14 points from six matches, thanks to two outright wins. The home team's form, though, has been inconsistent. It started the season with a defeat to Mumbai before two wins but goes into this game on the back of a defeat to Saurashtra here. The team will, however, be bolstered by the return of skipper Krunal Pandya after his India-A commitments in New Zealand.

The wicket here in Motibaug is expected to favour the seamers at least on the first two days, and the early winter mornings could aid that. While both teams are equally matched, Baroda will feel it has an edge with a slightly better pace attack with the likes of Lukman Meriwala and Atit Seth in its ranks.

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