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Sanju Samson-led Kerala face stern test against holders TN in Mushtaq Ali Trophy quarters

The contest between the likes of Warrier and T Natarajan against Sanju Samson will be an interesting match-up while the Kerala bowlers will be wary of the likes of N Jagadeesan and Baba Aparajith

Published: 17th November 2021 08:07 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th November 2021 08:07 PM   |  A+A-

Sanju Samson

Sanju Samson has been in good nick in the tournament (Photo | Twitter)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Kerala couldn't have asked for a bigger test in the quarterfinal of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy as they come face to face with defending champions Tamil Nadu. On paper, the Vijay Shankar-led side will be the favourites, but Kerala has been in good form in the tournament led by Sanju Samson.

The Kerala skipper has scored 227 runs so far including three half-centuries and another unbeaten 45 against Bihar. In fact, Sanju has stayed unbeaten in four of the six matches so far and has been instrumental in helping Kerala finish off matches.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu looks well on course to defend their title. Barring a defeat against Goa, they have looked the part in the other matches.

Four wins out of five in the group stages ensured that they pipped the challenge of Maharashtra to top the group and secure direct qualification to the quarter-final.

"We will have respect for our opponents because they are the defending champions. Traditionally, they have been a very good side over the years. But we will try to focus on our game and our cricket," said Kerala head coach Tinu Yohannan.

The biggest positive for Kerala in this campaign has been their ability to fire as a collective unit. While Sanju has been in good nick, the other players have provided vital contributions.

Their openers Mohammed Azharuddeen and Rohan Kunnummal have given the side great starts while veteran batsman Sachin Baby has been consistent in the middle when called upon. Rohan's contributions at the top has meant that Kerala hasn't missed the injured Robin Uthappa a lot.

The bowling department has also fared well. While Sandeep Warrier now represents Tamil Nadu and veteran pacer S Sreesanth made himself unavailable for this tournament, the other bowlers have stepped up.

The likes of Manu Krishnan, Midhun S and Asif KM have complemented senior bowlers like Jalaj Saxena and Basil Thampi.

"I think the team is performing as a unit and all the players know what role they have to play. This has been crucial and we have not been relying on one individual," said Yohannan.

The contest between the likes of Warrier and T Natarajan against Sanju Samson will be an interesting match-up while the Kerala bowlers will be wary of the likes of N Jagadeesan and Baba Aparajith in what promises to be an exciting contest between the southern rivals.



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