Mushtaq Ali Trophy: Tamil Nadu faces Himachal challenge in quarters

Tamil Nadu takes on Himachal Pradesh in the second quarterfinal of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy to be played at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad.

N. Jagadeesan is the leading run-getter in the tournament so far with 315 runs. (File Photo)   -  V. Ganesan

Over the last few years, Tamil Nadu (TN) has been a strong force in white-ball cricket in the Indian domestic competition.

TN finished runner’s up in both the Vijay Hazare and Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 tournament last season - losing to Karnataka on both occasions.

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This time the team would want to go one step further in the T20 tournament to complete unfinished business after losing by one run in the final last year.

The Dinesh Karthik-led team stormed through the group stages of the tournament with five comprehensive wins from as many games.

On Tuesday, it takes on Himachal Pradesh (HP) in the second quarterfinal to be played at the Motera Stadium in Ahmedabad and the team would not want to let go of the promising start.

-The Jagadeesan Effect -

The five wins were largely led by vice-captain N. Jagadeesan, who after making his IPL debut last year, seems to be on a mission to build on that momentum.

The wicketkeeper-batsman is the leading run-getter in the tournament so far with 315 runs including four half-centuries in the last four matches.

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He has been ably supported by fellow opener C. Hari Nishanth who has given the team some good starts.

On the bowling front, M. Ashwin, another player who had a good IPL, has been the standout performer with nine wickets with others chipping in.

-Himachal banks on consistency-

Its opponents Himachal, despite not having the big names like TN have won four of its five games. It has been thanks to the efforts of senior players like Prashant Chopra (156 runs leading run-scorer for HP), skipper Rishi Dhawan (105 runs & 9 wickets) and medium-pacer Pankaj Jaiswal (nine wickets).

For Himachal, if the medium pacers can get the TN openers early, it gives an opening to test a TN middle order that has not had much game time so far.

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Tuesday will also mark the debut for the new revamped Motera Stadium and both teams will have to deal with the uncertainty of the pitch.

While TN will start as favourites, it would know well not to underestimate Himachal especially, after having lost to the latter in the Ranji Trophy last season in Dindigul.