CHENNAI: Over the last two days, the mood of all those keeping a tab on the fortunes of Tamil Nadu in this season of the Ranji Trophy may have probably gone from dour to downright morose. This conjecture isn’t a difficult one to arrive at. While Monday saw Abhinav Mukund and his men being denied a berth in the knockouts, Tuesday saw the same bunch leave the tournament with not one victory to show. Saddening indeed. “We were in a good position but lost wickets in a clump.
That made things difficult. There was assistance in the morning session, and their bowlers capitalised on that,” said Tamil Nadu vice-captain Baba Indrajith after their final clash against Baroda in Vadodara ended in a 102-run defeat on the final day. An analytical postmortem of where last season’s semifinalists went wrong this time around makes for an even depressing read.
Their metaphorical armour can probably double up as a sieve, considering the number of chinks that it’s been carrying since October 6. Things began to slide for Tamil Nadu even before they set foot at the MA Chidambaram Stadium for taking on Andhra. Injuries ensured that speedsters Aswin Crist and Thangarasu Natarajan didn’t make an appearance.
That, in turn, dismantled the pace troika they had formed with Krishnamoorthy Vignesh; one among the pivots behind Tamil Nadu’s run last time around. Compared to this triumvirate’s 2016-17 haul of 96 scalps, the stand-in pace attack — comprising Vignesh, L Vignesh, Vijay Shankar, V Lakshman, Vijay Yomahesh, M Mohammed and J Kousik — mustered only 51. Krishnamoorthy Vignesh alone accounted for 24 of them. The 2016-17 yielded three fifers for Tamil Nadu’s pacers. 2017-18, on the other hand, witnessed zilch.
Throw in a numerically-uninspiring sideshow from their tweaker contingent (Rahil Shah, Washington Sundar and R Sai Kishore claimed 24 wickets at a strike-rate and average of 97.25 and 49), and its easy to surmise that Tamil Nadu’s bowling department were as effective as a water pistol in a gunfight. To compound problems, even more, crucial catches were muffed against Odisha. The latter cashed in, batting out seven sessions and stealing three points from under Tamil Nadu’s nose. As if the above issue wasn’t migraine-inducing enough for Hrishikesh Kanitkar’s wards, showers hit their home clashes against Andhra and Tripura; an opportunity cost of six more points was incurred.
“There are no excuses. We’re all professionals and we believe that despite all those things, we had a decent enough team to qualify. It’s not about other factors like injuries; it’s about playing well on a given day. With lesser matches, once you lose momentum, then you’re left playing catch-up for the rest of the time,” remarked Indrajith.