CHENNAI: Defending champions Tamil Nadu sealed their quarterfinal berth in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy with an important win over Punjab in Lucknow on Tuesday. After a close win over Odisha and a loss against Goa in the group stages, this was a much-needed win. What has been admirable from Vijay Shankar and co has been their ability to raise the bar when it matters most.
“It feels great to reach the quarterfinals. Credit goes to the boys, who played as a unit and took the match away from Punjab in all three departments. The Punjab game was a must-win one and for sure the pressure was high in order to go to the next rounds. But the boys handled it (pressure) well,’’ complimented coach Venkataramana.
Thanks to the TNCA senior division league, the VAP trophy and TNPL, the Tamil Nadu players are always prepared for BCCI tournaments. However, it has to be said that the tournament has not been a walk in the park so far, losing to Goa and a close game against Odisha. “The lesson learnt is that in this format one cannot take any team lightly. Having said that, it was good team work and proper execution of plans that helped us reach the next stage. I am sure the boys would continue to do so in the knock-outs,’’ said the former NCA coach.
T20 is all about youth and Tamil Nadu has always encouraged youngsters in this format. The good show by Tamil Nadu in the SMA has helped many players bag IPL contracts in the past. This season too Tamil Nadu fielded young guns like Sai Sudarshan and gave opportunities to the likes of P Saravana Kumar.
“T20 is all about youth. Sai Sudarshan has adapted to this level and is ahead of his age. He has got a bright future. Saravana Kumar started out very well, he is a natural athlete and raring to go,’’ he opined.
Vijay Shankar and N Jagadeesan were at their best against Punjab with good half-centuries. Tamil Nadu’s fortune will depend heavily on this pair in the knock-out phase as finishing is very important. “Both Vijay Shankar and Jagadeesan brought out the best in them for the crunch match against Punjab. They are experienced and will certainly play a major role in the knock-outs. What is heartening is that they enjoy their game and are keen to the responsibility and play which augurs well for the side,’’ the coach said.
T Natarajan who was injured during the IPL has been bowling well. B Aparajith too gave a good account of himself and has also been picked for the India A side on its tour of South Africa. With Varun Chakravarthy not in the series against New Zealand there is a possibility that he may play. “Natarajan knows the format well and has gained good experience. He nails it well at the crucial juncture of the game. Good luck to Aparajith for the South Africa tour. As far as Varun is concerned it is up to the selectors to decide.’’