Tamil Nadu v MP: Clash of the equals

It is Tamil Nadu's first outing at Cuttack but Madhya Pradesh has had a feel of it last season against Mumbai. The team's skipper Devendra Bundela believes the conditions here will aid the fast bowlers.

Abhinav Mukund Dinesh Karthik, Tamil Nadu, Ranji Trophy

With Diwali around the corner, this 'Silver City' has certainly come to life. But for the players from both Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh it was business as usual. They toiled hard at the nets, far away from the city, and worked out various strategies in a bid to outclass the other ahead of the crucial Ranji Trophy clash which begins at the DRIEMS College grounds here on Thursday.

With skipper Abhinav Mukund and the experienced Dinesh Karthik making the best use of the willow this season, Tamil Nadu seems to have a slight edge over its opponent. But coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Abhinav prefer not to blow the trumpet.

“Madhya Pradesh is a very good side. They have qualified for the knockouts the last few years. So it's going to be an even contest,” said Kanitkar.

“MP may miss a couple of key players but the team looks good. I genuinely look forward to a great contest,” quickly added the skipper, who has already scored two fine centuries in three matches.

The return of Vijay Shankar has certainly bolstered the team's chances. B. Indrajith also seems to have found his form. But, Abhinav feels every young player in his side has the ability to stand up and deliver.

“It's a challenging new scenario for everybody in the team. We are trying hard to understand the various ground conditions. The boys are learning pretty quickly as well, which is important for the team,” he said.

Kanitkar has made it clear what he expects from his players. “His expectations are very fair and we are trying our best to achieve what he wants,” said Karthik, who is quite determined to help the team win the Ranji Trophy.

“Seriously, there's no extra pressure of being a senior player. I am enjoying as much as anybody in the team. We have played in some very tough venues but our progress has been very good. I expect the match to be good as it between two even sides,” he added.

It is Tamil Nadu's first outing at this venue but Madhya Pradesh has had a feel of it last season against Mumbai. The team's skipper Devendra Bundela believes the conditions here will aid the fast bowlers.

“And, we have a good bunch of them in our team. Our batsmen have been in fine nick as well. They had done a good job against Uttar Pradesh. Overall it's a balanced side.”

About the absence of some of the key players, Bundela said it doesn't make a big difference. Bundela and Harpreet Singh are the two stars of the team. Medium pacer Ishwar Pandey and leggie Mihir Hirwani, son of former India spinner Narendra Hirwani, may well back their efforts with the ball.

The weather forecast for the next few days doesn't read good. Thunder showers are expected but the players want to keep that aside and do the job for their respective teams.

The teams (from):

Tamil Nadu: Abhinav Mukund (capt.), B. Aparjith, B. Indrajith, K. Dinesh Karthik, M.S. Washington Sundar, J. Kousik, L. Suryaprakash, N. Jagadeesan, Rahil Shah, Malolan Rangarajan, R. Aushik Srinivas, Vijay Shankar, K. Vignesh, T. Natarajan, M. Kaushik Gandhi & L. Vignesh. Coach: Hrishikesh Kanitkar.

Madhya Pradesh: Devendra Bundela (capt.), Vikrant Singh, Mukul Raghav, Aditya Shrivastava, Rajat Patidar, Harpreet Singh, Rameez Khan, Shubham Sharma, Ankit Dane, Ankit Sharma, Mihir Hirwani, Ishwar Pandey, Gourav Yadav, Ashwin Das, Chandrakant Sakure & Saransh Jain. Coach: Harvinder Singh Sodhi

Match officials: D.A. Yashwant & P.R. Rajendra, Match referee: Chinmaya Sharma.

Other matches (October 27 - 30):

Baroda v Punjab

> Bengal v Railways

Gujarat v Uttar Pradesh

> Assam v Karnataka

> Delhi v Odisha

Jharkhand v Vidarbha

> Rajasthan v Maharashtra

> Andhra v Haryana

> Chhattisgarh v Kerala

Goa v Tripura

> Himachal Pradesh v Hyderabad

Services v Jammu & Kashmir

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