Tamil Nadu shifts focus to Vijay Hazare after T20 success

While Vijay Shankar will lead the 5-time champions after the success as skipper in the T20 format, the team will also have the services of their leading run-scorer in List A cricket, Dinesh Karthik.

Published: 08th December 2021 12:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 08th December 2021 12:03 AM   |  A+A-

Tamil Nadu captain Vijay Shankar (File)

Express News Service

CHENNAI: After defending the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy title successfully last month, Tamil Nadu men return to the 50-over format, taking on Mumbai in their opening game of Vijay Hazare Trophy in Thumba, Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday.

While Vijay Shankar will lead the five-time champions after the success as skipper in the T20 format, the team will also have the services of their leading run-scorer in List A cricket, Dinesh Karthik, and the young allrounder Washington Sundar, who were not a part of the SMAT squad due to injury.

Speaking about their return, Head coach M. Venkataramana said that it is a big boost for the squad. “It is a big advantage. DK with his experience will come in very handy. Washy is a rising star. Definitely, we can expect a good amount of contribution from them,” he said ahead of their first match.

Sticking to a core group

The last time Tamil Nadu won the Vijay Hazare Trophy was in the 2016-17 season. Since then, they have played three T20 and one 50-over final. Through this five-year period, the team management has stuck to a core group of players, allowing the youngsters to develop under the senior players. As many as nine players from the 2016-17 squad are a part of the team this season. 

Venkataramana attributes the success to building a core group of players and providing the individuals clarity on their roles. “As a team, definitely sticking with the same group will definitely help. They have understood each other very well. We are on the way up in performance-wise as well. It has shown in our results.”

“We, as support staff, try to make it very simple. We keep it very straightforward to them about what we are expecting out of each after every match. They have taken up very well. They will be in their comfort zone, and have a free mind. It helps in bringing out the best in them.”

Mix of youth and experience

Tamil Nadu success in the limited-over formats and the emergence of Tamil Nadu Premier League in the last few years is no coincidence. The T20 tournament has helped the state build a large pool of players, who could step up and perform in the absence of the experienced campaigners. With Karthik, Baba Aparajith, Washington missing out, P Saravana Kumar, Sai Sudharsan and Sanjay Yadav came to the fore in the SMAT this year. 

Venkataramana said that they are proven customers in the local leagues and TNPL, adding, “We have covered all sides, so basically if big names are missing out, there are people to take over, I see that as an opportunity for them. They have taken that role very well. They have made the most of it.”

Among the experienced players, he feels that Shankar, who was in exemplary form during the Mushtaq Ali tournament, would be the mainstay for the team in the middle. “He has got the capabilities to take the side through. It is important to keep an eye on who’s hitting form and carrying the team quickly in this format. Shankar, for his style of play, one-day (format) will suit well.”

After the success of Sai Kishore in the T20 format, Venkataramana said that he wants the left-arm spinner to finish his quota of overs. “If he is able to bring in his experience to pick up wickets, it will be very handy. I am sure he will live up to the expectations.”

Bat deep and finish big

Switching to the 50-over format, the team management plans to take the innings deep before unleashing their designated finisher Shahrukh Khan in the death overs.” We have to keep wickets in hand, to put pressure on them in the last 10 overs. All these guys who have performed well in T20 will come in handy. For that our top-order have to do well. We have a set top-order now.. We should be able to do reasonably well.”

Having missed out on the knockouts last year based on Net Run Rate, Venkataramana wants the team to take one game at a time. “In these kinds of tournaments, every group match is important. It doesn't matter who the opposition is. It’ll boil down to the total number of wins during the tournament. We take one match at a time,” he said.


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