Sai Kishore up for captaincy challenge

The 26-year-old will lead the southern side in its last two group stage games – inconsequential ones since Tamil Nadu is out of reckoning for knockout qualification – against Assam and Saurashtra at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here this month.
Sai Kishore
Sai KishoreFile photo

CHENNAI: Out of the blue on Friday, the Tamil Nadu men’s senior selection committee handed the red-ball captaincy duties to premier left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore, who has never led a team at any level in the past.

Sai Kishore, who had been named the vice-captain at the start of the Ranji Trophy season, replaced Baba Indrajith as the skipper after Tamil Nadu produced below-par performances in its first five matches, from which it secured only eight points.

The 26-year-old will lead the southern side in its last two group stage games – inconsequential ones since Tamil Nadu is out of reckoning for knockout qualification – against Assam and Saurashtra at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here this month.

Despite not having any prior experience, Sai Kishore is positive about taking to captaincy like a fish to water. “Irrespective of whether I was the captain or not, I played as a leader in every format. Since I became a main member of this team, it has been about winning trophies. We will give everything for the team; we will take [selection] calls for the team. Whatever happens after that, happens,” Sai Kishore, a mainstay in the Tamil Nadu eleven across formats, told DT Next on Saturday.

At the same time, Sai Kishore admitted that taking up the responsibility midway through the season was challenging. “We (the players) are all in this together; we win together and we lose together. Not qualifying for the next round hurts, but it does not mean that we did not put in the hard work. It is just a matter of time [before we get better],” added Sai Kishore.

When asked about his captaincy style, Sai Kishore replied: “You can expect the team to play as one. Oru tennis ball match aadra team epdi aadum? 50 runs defend panra team epdi aadum?

It would play with a lot of heart, right? That is what you can expect from us.”

‘Team not far from finding success formula’

Tamil Nadu is placed a lowly sixth on the Group B table, but things could have turned out differently had the team won the crucial moments in its first three matches.

External factors such as poor light – in the away games against Hyderabad and Delhi – also did not help Tamil Nadu’s cause. But, Sai Kishore said that the Tamil Nadu team is not far away from finding the “formula for everything to happen” and cited the revival of Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League 2021 as an example.

“In IPL 2020, CSK won six matches and lost eight games. Had it got one more win, it would have qualified [for the play-offs]. The next year, CSK won the title. The only [major] difference was the arrival of [England all-rounder] Moeen Ali. CSK had the same team, there were not many changes,” said the former Super Kings player.

“Similarly, this Ranji Trophy season would have looked different for Tamil Nadu had we secured two outright wins in the first few matches. I really believe that when you are facing failure, you are closer to success. When you are doing very well, you are closer to failure.

“It (winning the Ranji Trophy) is a puzzle that we have to figure out. We are failing now, so we are very close to success. That is how I will approach it. A few tactical calls… a few moments where we can play better as a team. It is enough if we do them. I do not think a revamp [of the squad] is needed,” Sai Kishore signed off.

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