S. Vasudevan revisits Tamil Nadu's triumph of 1987-88

Vasudevan was the captain when Tamil Nadu won its second of two Ranji Trophy titles, 32 years ago.

In March, 1988, Tamil Nadu had won the Ranji Trophy after a gap of 33 years. Standing: M. Venkatramana, B. Arun, V. Sivaramakrishnan, S. Venkatraghavan (TNCA secretary), S. Vasudevan (captain), L. Sivaramakrishnan, D. Girish, V. B. Chandrasekhar and D. Vasu. Kneeling: N. Gautam, P. C. Prakash, K. Arun Kumar, M. Senthilnathan, R. Venkatesh, Robin Singh, and U. R. Radhakrishnan. - THE HINDU ARCHIVES

Self-effacing to the core, S. Vasudevan was a precocious talent. A wonderful left-arm spinner with guile, deception and a deadly arm-ball. A languid, capable bat with strokes and substance, he made runs when it mattered. And Vasudevan was an effortless catcher in the slips.

The naturally gifted cricketer was also the skipper of the last occasion Tamil Nadu lifted the Ranji Trophy - in the 1987-88 season.

Remembered Vasudevan, “We had a blend of experience and youth. We had youngsters such as M. Venkataramana, U. R. Radhakrishnan and M. Senthilnathan.”

Vasudevan added, “We also had men who had played a fair amount of first-class cricket in V. Sivaramakrishnan, B. Arun, V. B. Chandrasekar, L. Sivaramakrishnan, Robin Singh, P. C. Prakash, D. Girish and myself. And internationals K. Srikkanth and W. V. Raman too figured in a few games.”

Talking about his style of captaincy, Vasudevan said, “I was not a control freak. The players were given the freedom to express themselves. Every suggestion was welcome.”

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Importantly, Tamil Nadu was quick off the blocks winning its first three games. “That gave the team momentum.”

A strong batting line-up

Then, in the knockout matches against Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Indian Railways (final), the side made big runs, giving the bowlers the opportunity to apply pressure. Vasudevan said, “We batted deep. We had Robin Singh, B. Arun, L. Siva and myself who could all bat.”

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Apart from having a formidable batting unit, Tamil had two useful pacemen in B. Arun and Robin Singh, and a varied spin attack of off-spinner Venkataramana, left-arm spinner Vasudevan and leg-spinner L. Siva. And then with Vasudevan, VB, Robin, V. Siva and L. Siva around, the side had a brilliant close-in cordon.

Why has Tamil Nadu not been able to replicate the feat? Vasudevan explained: “We don’t play tournaments such as Buchi Babu and Moin-ud-dowla which would be ideal preparation for the Ranji season. Instead we go straight into the season from Twenty20 competition.”

“Also there is too much chopping and changing in the team. Cricketers need to be secure of their places to develop,” he said.

A man of few words, Vasudevan knows what he is talking about.

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