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Tamil Nadu favourites but Rajasthan no ‘pushovers’ in Ranji Trophy final

CHENNAI: The roads have been contrasting, but the destination remains the same.

While Tamil Nadu have crushed just about every team that has come their way en route to the Ranji Trophy final, Rajasthan’s has been a topsy-turvy ride. After conceding five first-innings leads in the first five matches, the point of discussion was whether the defending champions would be relegated.

All that turned around with a couple of outright victories and the apparent no-hopers are now in their second consecutive final, facing the most consistent team of the tournament.

Tamil Nadu, of course, hold all the aces in the home game and Rajasthan skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar was the first to concede that.

“They are a very good side and playing at home does make things a little easier. But we won’t be any pushovers,” Kanitkar said after a practice session on Wednesday morning.

The best thing about the current Tamil Nadu unit is that there are no weak spots. Batsmen Abhinav Mukund, M Vijay, S Badrinath and Dinesh Karthick form the Fab Four of domestic cricket while the bowling department — which used to be an area of concern—looks well drilled.

Skipper Lakshmipathy Balaji feels that the pace attack comprising of himself, J Kaushik and Yo Mahesh is TN’s best he has seen in his 12 years of first-class experience and they will make life tough for the Rajasthan batsmen. “Last year, we conceded 552 runs against Rajasthan in the semifinals and lost. A lot has changed since then and I believe we have the variety in the attack to keep them in check,” Balaji said.

Rajasthan, of course, have a good batting line-up with veterans like Aakash Chopra, Kanitkar and Rashmi Ranjan Parida while young Robin Bist has made a huge impression with some tall scores. Kanitkar knows that TN, too, have loads of experience in their line-up, but that is not something that would overawe them.

“We have players who have been playing together for a long time…They know what it takes to make it count on the big stage,” Kanitkar sounded the warning bell.

That is one area which would be an advantage for Rajasthan, because there’s no pressure of expectation.

TN, on the other hand, is craving for that trophy, which they last won in 1987-88. Their last two attempts in the final against Mumbai have ended in disappointments.

Even though none of the captains were ready to concede it, the toss may become a big factor on this Chepauk track, where strokeplay is not that easy. And if Rajasthan, with the experience that they have, can put on 400 plus on the board, the TN batting line-up is bound to feel the heat.

There were quite a few times in the Ranji Trophy this season that Balaji’s men lost some early wickets and the lower middle-order had to put on the rescue act. Incidentally, every time, they batted first and it can be a different kettle of fish if the same thing happens while chasing.

Rajasthan will have all those things in mind as they look to make TN’s road to glory as difficult as possible, setting the stage up for an intriguing clash.

Teams (from):

Tamil Nadu: Lakshmipathy Balaji (C), Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Dinesh Karthik, Jagannathan Kaushik , Baba Aparajith, Arun Karthik, Aushik Srinivas, Kaushik Gandhi, Sunny Gupta, Yo Mahesh, Ramaswamy Prasanna, Sunil Sam, Vijay Shankar, K Vasudevadas.

Rajasthan: Hrishikesh Kanitkar (C), Robin Bist, Deepak Chahar, Aakash Chopra, Aniket Choudhary, Vaibhav Deshpande, Rohit Jhalani, Madhur Khatri, Sumit Mathur, Ashok Menaria, Pankaj Singh, Rashmi Parida, Vineet Saxena, Shamsher Singh, Dishant Yagnik.


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Posted by on Jan 19 2012. Filed under Sports News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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