Tamil Nadu decodes the winning mantra

This cohesive Tamil Nadu team had belief and bench strength. The side delivered a ‘double.’ Tamil Nadu’s triumphs in the Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy one-day tournaments were significant for the side was without several regular cricketers

Dinesh Karthik gathered 854 runs in 12 innings from the two one-day tournaments — Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy. And he made runs when it mattered most.   -  R.V. Moorthy

This cohesive Tamil Nadu team had belief and bench strength. The side delivered a ‘double.’ Tamil Nadu’s triumphs in the Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy one-day tournaments were significant for the side was without several regular cricketers.

For instance, the Deodhar Trophy victory was achieved without seven frontline cricketers — M. Vijay, R. Ashwin, Abhinav Mukund, Aswin Crist, K. Vigensh, T. Natarajan and B. Aparajith.

In this context, the selection panel led by Sridharan Sharath deserves credit for providing plenty of opportunities to youngsters, enhancing the depth in the ranks.

Although it was a team effort, the twin conquests were inspired by Dinesh Karthik. He’s always had natural stroke-making ability, but has now matured as a batsman. The 31-year-old cricketer’s shot-selection and reading of the situations have improved. He’s enjoying taking on responsibility, guiding his side through choppy waters, and is converting starts to good scores.

Karthik’s numbers in the two competitions are mind-boggling. He made 247 runs in three innings in the Deodhar Trophy at 82.33. In the Vijay Hazare tournament, Karthik notched up 607 runs at 86.71. In all, Karthik gathered 854 runs in 12 innings from the two one-day tournaments. And he made runs when it mattered most.

Crucially, Karthik came up with centuries in adverse situations in the final of both the tournaments – 112 against Bengal out of a total of 217 in Vijay Hazare and 126 against India ‘B’ in Deodhar. You couldn’t ask more from a No. 4 batsman.

Karthik was solid and enterprising, and strung together partnerships. He is keen to wear the Indian cap again. He now sees himself as a specialist batsman who can represent the country over the next five years. “I believe he should be on the flight with the Indian team for the ICC Champions Trophy. What he has achieved is tremendous. Domestic performances such as this should be rewarded,” said Sharath to Sportstar.

Of course, Tamil Nadu had an astute coach in Hrishikesh Kanitkar and a young, ambitious captain in all-rounder Vijay Shankar. N. Jagadeesan, a bustling wicket-keeper batsman, notched up three successive half centuries in Deodhar Trophy. He’s both exciting and attractive.

And Kaushik Gandhi, a compact batsman with a sound temperament, pulled his weight at the top of the order. His 124 against India ‘B’ in a Deodhar Trophy group game reflected the efficiency of his methods.

In bowling, the left-arm spin duo of Rahil Shah and R. Sai Kishore hunted together. Rahil is accurate, doesn’t provide much room or width. The lanky Sai Kishore operated with aggression, his natural bounce being a big factor. He was the leading wicket-taker in Deodhar with nine scalps at 15.55 and has immense possibilities.

All-rounder Washington Sundar’s off-spin was handy. Aswin Crist, a seamer who bowls a mean length, made an impression in Vijay Hazare Trophy with 20 wickets at 17.65.

In all, this Tamil Nadu side comprehended how to win. As Sharath put it, “This double is a massive achievement.”