With just seven points from four games, Tamil Nadu will have to dig deep and come hard at the opposition when it takes on Maharashtra in the fifth-round match of the Ranji Trophy (Elite B) that starts here at the MCA International Stadium on Tuesday.
TN’s campaign this year has been a case of so near yet so far. It had chances to get full points in its first three matches but came away with only six points.
While bad light scuppered its chances for outright wins against Hyderabad and Delhi, TN squandered away a winning position against Andhra to come out empty-handed.
With just three matches left, TN will have to look for big outright wins in the remaining fixtures to give itself any hope of progressing through to the next round.
In some good news for the side, pace spearhead Sandeep Warrier will be available after missing the last match due to illness. The team might also play an extra bowler in left-arm spinner S. Ajith Ram to maximise its chances of taking 20 wickets.
Tamil Nadu coach M. Venkatramana said, “We know we need to be aggressive, but we can’t get desperate either searching for six points. We have played a good brand of cricket, but one or two sessions in every match have proved costly. If we can get that one win, it will lift the team spirits.”
In contrast, Maharashtra is a side brimming with confidence after a solid start to its campaign with two outright wins and is third in the group with 16 points.
The team also got a massive boost to its batting unit with the arrival of Rahul Tripathi and Ruturaj Gaikwad. The duo, alongside the experienced Kedar Jadhav, will pose a stern test to the visitors.
Though the bowling attack is relatively inexperienced, the advantage of home conditions should work in its favour.
Maharashtra skipper Ankeet Bawane said, “we have been playing well this season since the Vijay Hazare Trophy. We are in a tough group, and this is a crucial game for both sides. So it is important to continue to play positive cricket and we are confident of doing well.”
While it is the last roll of the dice for Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra will look to keep up the momentum in what could be a special game for the side, with three India cricketers playing for the first time in its history.