CHENNAI: For those not privy to the nitty-gritty of domestic cricket, a cursory scan of Tamil Nadu's Vijay Hazare Trophy contingent may end up reminding them of the popular computer game, Civilization.
With a C(h)rist, a Mohammed, a Washington, and a Gandhi to boot, 'unity in diversity' — one among the underlying themes of the role-playing title — may well be their resultant line of thought after doing so, as opposed to 'how did they perform this year?'.
Divine and political-figurehead references notwithstanding, they won't be wrong in their cognitive meanderings, as the former notional undertow has also been the ethos behind Tamil Nadu's successful sojourn this year; one that saw them lift the one-day crown on Monday after beating Bengal in New Delhi.
The bowling returns from their defence of 217 is evidence enough. Among the seven used, six — Aswin Crist, M Mohammed, Rahil Shah, Vijay Shankar, Baba Aparajith and R Sai Kishore — chipped in with wickets. The one who didn't — Washington Sundar — was instrumental in setting teammates up by stemming the run flow (0/17 in 8 overs). Unity in diversity, indeed.
For attestation of this view on a more macro level — inclusive of Tamil Nadu's Ranji Trophy campaign this year that saw them reach the semifinals — sample coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar's words.
“It's not the same names that keep cropping up. Various players have stepped up when needed. Even in the last game (against Baroda), Washy (Sundar) had to play a small role during our chase. He did it well, playing sensibly and getting us there (an unbeaten 26 off 23). What I'm trying to imply is that despite not having a great season, he stepped up under pressure, in a semifinal. Because we have an atmosphere where teammates' goals are also priority, the happiness that comes from their success has driven us.”
Ask him about changes that caused this transformation, and he ascribes it to psychological changes. “Simply put, everybody makes mistakes. Rather than blaming each other, embracing them makes more sense.
What we do after we commit errors is more important. That's something I have believed in as a player, and I still do. Learning and bettering oneself is the first thing we placed emphasis on. The second that cricket is a team game, and that you never win alone. There may be a few who shine in a match, but it's the team that wins.”
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 217 in 47.2 ovs (D Karthik 112, B Indrajith 32, M Shami 4-26) bt Bengal 180 in 45.5 ovs (A Crist 2-23, M Mohammed 2/30, R Shah 2-38).