After the highs in white ball cricket where Tamil Nadu progressed to the finals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy (50 overs) and Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy (20 overs), a lot was expected of the southern state team in the ongoing Ranji Trophy 2019-20 season.
Tamil Nadu had lost successive home games against nemesis Karnataka and Himachal Pradesh before playing out draws against Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh. Forced into a make-or-break situation, the 1987-88 champion will have to go full throttle from here on if it aspires to even challenge for a knockout place.
The D Vasu-coached unit kicks off its second and final chapter of the opening round with a home contest against Mumbai (6 points from 3 games) at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here, beginning Saturday. Up against an opponent that has surprisingly had a quiet start to its campaign, Tamil Nadu will go all out for the maximum points on offer, emphasised Vasu.
“Every team is aiming for outright victories and that will be our motto going forward as well,” Vasu told reporters. “We won’t have a chance of getting into the next round if we don’t go for positive results. In the process of doing that, it doesn’t matter if we lose,” added the former Tamil Nadu all-rounder.
Having heavily missed the services of experienced pros Dinesh Karthik, Abhinav Mukund and Ravichandran Ashwin in the previous clashes due to different reasons, the home team welcomes the trio with both hands. Head coach Vasu was pleased with the return of the India internationals, who have now given the Tamil Nadu squad a rounded look.
“All seniors except Washington Sundar (who was on national duty) are back. We almost have a full-strength side now. We would like to see everyone contribute to the team,” said Vasu, who was not in a position to comment about the Chepauk strip. The wicket was relaid recently and has played host to only one competitive game till now.
“The BCCI has asked one of its curators to prepare the surface. So, the home association has no say over how the wicket should be. There is no advantage as far as the conditions are concerned,” explained the 52-year-old.
All members of the 16-member contingent are fit and available for selection.
Visitor Mumbai began its run in dominating fashion, toppling Baroda by a huge margin. However, it has lost its way after that, succumbing to consecutive defeats against Railways and Karnataka. Although the away side has recently hit a low, Vasu stressed no team can be taken for granted in the country’s premium domestic competition.