Tamil Nadu — reaping rewards of a great team effort

Nine wins out of nine — Tamil Nadu’s run in the Vijay Hazare Trophy constitutes one of the most consistent performances by any team in domestic cricket.

Coach D. Vasu has turned a group of talented cricketers into a formidable unit.   -  PTI

“Three to go,” said D. Vasu, smiling.

The Tamil Nadu coach was speaking to Sportstar on October 6 at the K. L. Saini Ground here shortly after his boys defeated — rather, thrashed — Tripura to post its sixth straight win in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. He was referring to the three remaining matches in Group ‘C’.

On Wednesday, that target was achieved. Tamil Nadu made short work of Gujarat by 78 runs, to make it nine out of nine. The team isn’t merely a serial winner, but a convincing one. Its lowest victory margin in terms of wickets was six, and runs, 74.

Two matches were won by eight wickets and another two by more than 200 runs. Remember, it was not a weak group that Tamil Nadu was playing in; it was an elite one, featuring two other former champions and the host, in India’s premier one-day tournament.

Consistent

This has to be one of the most consistent, dominant performances by any team in the domestic cricket for a long time — something the players, the team management and the selectors, led by M. Senthilnathan, could be proud about.

The selectors got many things right, like the inclusion of M. Shahrukh Khan, who has the making of a fine finisher, especially when Dinesh Karthik, who has led the side admirably, isn’t available. When the duo are together at the wicket — as it has happened here — it could be nightmares for bowlers.

Team effort

If one looks closely at Tamil Nadu’s dream run, one would find that it was more of a complete team effort than the sum of performances from a few outstanding individuals. Of the seven batsmen who batted in the top six, only one averaged less than 47.50. Even that odd man out, C. Hari Nishanth, had a knock of 73 off 71 balls.

In M. Vijay and Abhinav Mukund, the team has as good an opening pair as any in the competition, and they are followed by B. Aparajith, Vijay Shankar and Washington Sundar before Karthik and Shahrukh storm to the middle.

The bowlers have delivered as much as a unit. Leg-spinner M. Ashwin and seamers K. Vignesh and M. Mohammed claimed 13 wickets apiece, while left-arm pacer T. Natarajan took 11. Left-arm spinner R. Sai Kishore and Aparajith, whose off-spin was used more this time around, scalped 10 each.

Skipper Karthik has done a great job with those bowlers on the field. Off it, Vasu has turned a group of talented cricketers to a formidable team. On Wednesday, after the win against Gujarat, the amiable coach was speaking about the last leg of the tournament in Bengaluru, where the quarterfinals begin on October 20.

“Three to go,” said D. Vasu, smiling.