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We will qualify for the knock-out: Avinash

Tamil Nadu haven’t got the best of starts in the Ranji Trophy this season after going down to defending champions Mumbai in a humdinger of a first match before thumping Railways in their second.

We will qualify for the knock-out: Avinash
Fielding coach Avinash (right) with the team


Tamil Nadu narrowly missed taking the first-innings lead against Uttar Pradesh in their third match to lose three valuable points but they would take heart from their come-back performances after conceding firstinnings lead in the first two matches. 

Tamil Nadu lie fifth with seven points from three games in the points table behind holders Mumbai, Gujarat, Bengal and Madhya Pradesh. The team has come together and struck a chord at crucial moments and coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar knows he has an able bunch of boys under him. An able support staff in Avinash Khandelwal as a fielding coach, L Balaji as the bowling coach and Ramji Srinivasan as fitness trainer has been instrumental in the team’s fortunes. 

Avinash said the team is sure to get better as the tournament progresses. “We have played three matches so far and we have seen improvements in all departments. We have notched up scores of 450 and nearly 500 in two matches and we have the mettle to get better and better as the tournament progresses,” he said. 

The fielding coach said the team is upbeat after some remarkable come-from-behind performances. “It is the way we have bounced back after being on the back-foot. The bowling unit has worked like a well-oiled machine. It was agonising to fall short against UP in the last match, but it also showed the character of the team,” the Coimbatore-born Avinash said. Talking about playing in neutral venues, Avinash said it is a learning experience. “It is very good for the game. The players get used to various conditions. They get to the ground, have a look at the wicket and outfield and then go about their preparations. It is something like an examination. It is the same for the support staff too. We have to get the best out of them in a short time,” he said. 

Avinash said Kanitkar’s attitude and Mukund’s experience as a skipper make a world of difference for the team. “Mukund knows his job as a skipper and is always motivating. He knows his strategies well. It is good that Indrajith, Mukund and DK are among the runs. It will be party time soon for the team. The coach is amazing and soft spoken. No matter the situation, he hasn’t been negative at all. His positivity is contagious and it rubs on everyone in the team,” Avinash, who flexed his muscles for Ramakrishna Mills in his hometown before playing for Chemplast in the state capital, said. 

For the Coimbatore player, his time with the Tamil Nadu team has been the best. “I am enjoying my stint as a fielding coach. I should thank Chepauk Super Gillies and the management for putting me in the limelight. I strive to do something different and keep motivating myself to do better every day. It is a huge responsibility and the journey has been memorable so far,” he added.

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