Vijay Hazare Trophy: Rajasthan challenge for new-look TN

With a new coach in D. Vasu and Dinesh Karthik returning to lead the side, Tamil Nadu will look to ensure a productive season. It takes on Team Rajasthan in its opening match.

Dinesh Karthik is back to lead Tamil Nadu.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Despite the potential, resources and facilities at hand, Tamil Nadu has been underachieving in domestic cricket in the last few years across formats, failing to even progress beyond the group stages — except in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 in 2017-2018.

As the new season of domestic cricket starts with the Vijay Hazare Trophy — the one-day tournament — here on Tuesday, Tamil Nadu will look to herald a more productive season; it has a new coach in D. Vasu and Dinesh Karthik has returned to lead the side after a long time. It takes on Team Rajasthan at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in its opening fixture.

Karthik powered Tamil Nadu to the title three years ago and backed it up with a win in the Deodhar trophy with outstanding contributions with the bat. Tamil Nadu will hope his leadership brings about changes in fortune. It is a competition Tamil Nadu has done well in, having won it five times, the most by any team.

Task cut out

Tamil Nadu will have its task cut out as only two teams from this group qualifies to the next stage. It finds itself in a group that also features strong teams like Bengal, Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh.

But even before the first ball is bowled, the team has been forced to handle some selection issues. Vijay Shankar is set to miss at least two games due to injury and on Monday, it was learnt Washington Sundar has a slight niggle. All-rounder J. Kousik is unwell as well. All three will miss Tuesday’s game and the first two are doubtful for even the second match. M. Vijay is likely to join the side from October 1 (vs Bengal) after his county stint.

The batting looks solid with the presence of Abhinav Mukund and the skipper himself alongside a promising youngster like N. Jagadeesan, who had a great Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL). TN’s weakness is the fast-bowling department.

‘Positive’

A lot depends on T. Natarajan and K. Vignesh to stay fit and be at 100 percent through the tournament as the wickets are expected to assist pace bowling. The team even had a preparatory camp in Tiruppur on wickets that assists fast bowlers to recreate conditions expected here. Coach Vasu said, “Whatever happened over the last two years is done. We are not going to take the pressure. We have prepared well in the camp and are positive of a good showing.”

The coach also conceded that managing workload of the fast bowlers will be key and the team has plans to handle it.

Rajasthan, led by Mahipal Lomoror, will be bolstered by the arrival of India players Khaleel Ahmed, Deepak Chahar and his brother Rahul, all of whom were part of the T20 squad against South Africa.

Speaking to Sportstar, Lomror said, “it is great to have the three players and they will join the squad tomorrow but we have not decided whether they will play. Our team’s strength is fast bowling and playing at home gives us a good chance to do well.”