CHENNAI: Defending champions Tamil Nadu, led by B Aparajith, has the right mixture of experience and youth in its ranks as they take on Chhattisgarh in their first match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali tournament at Lucknow on Tuesday. The team has prepared well and is confident of doing well in the tournament.
Tamil Nadu will be without the services of all-rounder Washington Sundar, who is on national duty. They also will not have Dinesh Karthik, R Ashwin (in Australia for the T20 World Cup) and Vijay Shankar (recovering from surgery).
However, they will be pleased with the return of T Natarajan and Varun Chakravarthy who are in good shape. Incidentally, last season the duo were in and out of various squads at various levels due to one injury after another.
"We have a good side with the right mixture of experience and youth. Washy is not there, but I believe it is an opportunity for someone to prove their worth. We had a camp at Natham, NPR college grounds and it went on very well. At the camp, we tried to get into the T20 mode as most of the boys had been playing the TNCA league, Duleep Trophy and one-day games. We succeeded in the switch and progressed very well in the seven-day camp,'' informed M Venkataramana.
He added that despite the absence of several Indian internationals, the team has all-round players with experience in the Indian Premier League.
"About 14 of our players were part of IPL teams and some have gone in as net bowlers for various teams. We have a potentially well-balanced side for this format. This format needs all-rounders, we have players with good all-round capabilities. Plus, Washington might join the side after his ODI series against SA gets over,'' said Venkataramana.
That said if there is a concern for the state side, it is their death overs bowling. Venkataramana believes that Natarajan’s good form in the VAP trophy is a big boost for them.
"His experience and execution in the death overs will come in handy for the team. Varun is (also) working hard. He is aware of what is required to stay in this game. I am sure he will send a strong signal to make a comeback into this tournament as well as the national side. With Natarajan and other experienced bowlers we should be able to close those gaps in the death overs,” opined the former NCA bowling coach.
In the batting department, Tamil Nadu has the flexibility to rotate as they have several players who could open or bat in the top order. “We have regular openers like Sai Sudharsan, Jagadeesan and Hari Nishanth. Newcomer G Ajitesh also being there means we have plenty of options to rotate and shuffle our batting lineup,” he said.
Meanwhile, in the middle and lower order, there is no dearth of power as Sharukh Khan has been a proven finisher for the state side in the shortest format. At the same time, the coach said that the game situations will define the role of the finisher in every game.
"Shahrukh is the kind of player who can turn the results of the match on his day. In the TN team, we have a few other powerhouse batters down the order. Their roles and responsibilities will keep shifting according to the match situation. At this level, we want them to adapt for the team's cause and want them to be flexible," signed off Venkataramana.