Vijay Hazare Trophy: Ruthless Tamil Nadu aims to keep juggernaut rolling

Having booked a berth in the quarterfinals, a confident Tamil Nadu led by India international Dinesh Karthik will aim to keep the momentum going.

Back in style: Vijay Shankar, padding up again after an injury break, has made his presence felt.   -  PTI

Shortly after his team’s easy win over Bihar at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Thursday, Bengal coach Arun Lal was taking stock of the situation.

Gujarat’s match against Services was still underway, at the K.L. Saini Ground, and there was still an outside chance for Bengal to make the quarterfinals from Group C of the Vijay Hazare Trophy tournament.

Tamil Nadu had already booked its berth. “It is a very strong team,” said the former India opener. You would have to agree with Arun. Tamil Nadu has dominant right from the very start of the tournament.

The southern superpower goes into Saturday’s match against Madhya Pradesh hoping to register its eighth win on the trot.

It will be hard to look beyond Tamil Nadu. Not just because Madhya Pradesh has only won two of its seven games, more because of the kind of cricket the Dinesh Karthik-led side has played over the last three weeks.

The victory margins alone would give a fair indication:  six wickets (against Rajasthan), 212 runs (Services), seven wickets (Bihar), 74 runs (Bengal), eight wickets (Jammu & Kashmir), 187 runs (Tripura) and eight wickets (Railways).

Gujarat has also won all its seven matches, but it hasn’t been as dominant. Its biggest wins have been by 101 runs and seven wickets.

In the last match, which the Bengal team had been tracking closely, it won by just 14 runs. Gujarat will have to come up with something special to stop Tamil Nadu in the clash between the top two sides on October 16.

There is so much confidence coach D. Vasu has in his boys that he said he wouldn’t worried even if the team has lost another wicket during the chase against Railways a few days ago.

“That would have given them an opportunity to experience some kind of pressure,” Vasu said.

Baba Aparajith, the tournament’s leading scorer with 439 runs, and Vijay Shankar, the India all-rounder who is coming back to the side from injury, did not allow Vasu to test the rest of the line-up, as they put on 186 for the unbroken third wicket.

All the Tamil Nadu batsmen have been amongst the runs – Abhinav Mukund, Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik and M. Shahrukh Khan.

Karthik, who was out in the 90s twice, has also led with imagination. His job has been made easier, though, by his balanced bowling attack featuring K. Vignesh, T. Natarajan, M. Ashwin, R. Sai Kishore, Aparajith and Vijay Shankar.

Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat have their task cut out against Karthik's men.