Tamil Nadu v Rajasthan, Ranji Trophy final, Chennai January 18, 2012

Experience against hunger in Ranji final

33

Match facts

Thursday, January 19-23, Chennai
Start time 0930 (0400 GMT)

Big Picture

Rajasthan have Robin Bist, the highest run-maker this season. Tamil Nadu have Abhinav Mukund, the second highest run-getter. Rajasthan have three fast men, including the cunning Pankaj Singh, who is this year's third-highest wicket-taker. TN also have three fast men, with each one of them taking at least twenty wickets. Rajasthan's leading spinner, Vivek Yadav, has 17 wickets. TN have Aushik Srinivas with 20 victims. Both teams are lead by men who usually prefer to stay quiet, but are extremely determined leaders.

So there is not much that separates the Ranji finalists, at least on paper. If there is one thing that favours TN, more than the home advantage, then it is experience.

Not only do they have five international players among the ranks, but most of the TN squad has played a lot of league cricket in Chennai before graduating to the first-class level. In contrast most of the Rajasthan squad are yet to cut their teeth properly on the domestic circuit. The experience can tilt the balance only because TN have players who can handle pressure situations well, as Ramaswamy Prasanna showed against Mumbai in the semi-finals.

But unlike TN, who are making their first final in eight years and won their last Ranji Trophy in 1989, Rajasthan have nothing to prove. Following up from their historic run to the crown last year, the Rajasthan team management and their professional players have ensured that the team effectively deploys the various strategies and processes. They didn't lose their head despite having only five points in the pocket after the first five rounds of the group stage.

If they continue to hold their nerve, Rajasthan will join a select band of teams to have won the Ranji Trophy in successive years. Apart from Mumbai, only Maharashtra, Delhi and Karnataka have achieved this feat.

Form guide

Tamil Nadu DDDDW (Most recent first)
Rajasthan WDWWD

Players to watch

Abhinav Mukund stands to gain a lot by performing at his home ground where he already has a double-century against Haryana, and a 95 in the quarter-final against Maharashtra. He needs 129 more runs to become the third TN player (after WV Raman and Sridharan Sriram) to achieve 1000 runs in a Ranji season. But the main motivation would be to perform against the best domestic seam bowling attack.

Abhinav could face his biggest hurdle in Pankaj Singh, who has been the best seamer of the Ranji season. With a sturdy run-up and healthy experience, Pankaj has stuck to a discipline approach this year to create the openings for his mates Rituraj Singh and Sumit Mathur.

Team news

Considering the wicket may play slow, Rajasthan may toy with the idea, even if briefly, of breaking their three-pronged fast-bowling attack in favour of a two-two combination. But with Vivek Yadav, the legspinner, being inconsistent, they might fall back on the attack that succeeded in the semi-final. They will also be reluctant to meddle with the combination of Pankaj, Rituraj and Mathur who are riding high on confidence after a series of match-winning spells.

Rajasthan (probable): 1 Aakash Chopra, 2 Vineet Saxena, 3 Hrishikesh Kaniktar (capt), 4 Robin Bist, 5 Rashmi Parida, 6 Puneet Yadav, 7 Dishant Yagnik (wk), 8 Rituraj Singh, 9 Gajendra Singh, 10 Pankaj Singh, 11 Sumit Mathur

On their part, TN are likely to retain the side that played the semi-finals against Mumbai.

Tamil Nadu (probable): 1 Abhinav Mukund, 2 Murali Vijay, 3 S Badrinath, 4 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 5 K Vasudevadas, 6 Ramaswamy Prasanna, 7 Yo Mahesh, 8 Sunny Gupta, 9 Lakshmipathy Balaji (capt), 10 Jagannathan Kaushik, 11 Aushik Srinivas

Pitch and conditions

The Chepauk pitch has a faint green cover but the grass is dry and there is a bald patch at one end. Also, it is understood that the pitch has not been rolled well so the bounce is likely to be low. The pitch behaviour is not expected to be any different from what was witnessed during the quarter-finals where the spinners got decent purchase. If anything, the surface is likely to be weary since this will be the third match to be played on it within a month. As for the conditions, the days are pleasant with the mercury climbing towards the 30 degree mark.

Stats and trivia

  • Rituraj Singh has 22 wickets at 14.31 with three five-wicket hauls. He has the second highest five-wicket hauls this season, though he's played only three matches
  • Rajasthan have 13 century stands with a highest of 398 between Robin Bist and Ashok Menaria against Railways. TN have only seven century stands with a highest of 223 against Gujarat
  • TN have made the highest score in the season (698 v Gujarat) and conceded over 500 just once. Rajasthan have conceded 500-plus totals on four occasions while scoring 500-plus on three occasions themselves
  • These teams have clashed four times in Ranji Trophy history, and the head-to-head is one-all with two drawn games

Quotes

"In the past there was over-dependence on one or two individuals. That is no more the case. If we are pushed in to a corner, everyone knows his role, everyone stands up and helps us come out of a tough situation."
Lakshmipathy Balaji, Tamil Nadu captain, on how his team is geared for their first final in eight years

"Experience will count but finally it will be more important who will be more hungry."
Hrishikesh Kanitkar stresses that Tamil Nadu's experience won't disadvantage his side

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on January 19, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    Rajsthan Opener's already shown what they are capable of doing at day 1 and will continue to do it over coming 4 days with both bat and ball. Good start for final. Now its time to open -up eyes for our national cricket team selection chairman Mr Srikant...its not a wise step that you tried to make a state team to a India Team. There has to be real talllent not like Murli Vijay and others from TN who had been given tons of opportunities at the highest level while best of the players were not able to made it despite of great show at domestic cricket. Come-n guys beat TN and show rest that we are the best and beat anyone

  • TRUE_INDIAN_101 on January 19, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Well played Akash n Vineet. Go RAJASTAN GO!!!!

  • on January 19, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    jai rajputana........royal rajasthan on the hunt........

  • ssenthil on January 19, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Déjà vu for Tamil Nadu. Rajasthan once again won the Toss and batting first in a FLAT pitch. Balaji didn't help his side either by conceding 17 runs in his first over. Rajasthan taken the momentum and now they are going to pile over 600 runs and TN will be in trouble and pressure when they start to bat. Century partnership already for the first wicket and TN is duly out of this Final from first session. Rajasthan holding the upper hand and TN looks already out of this match, their body language is not better and there is nothing in the pitch for the bowlers. That flat this pitch is

  • on January 19, 2012, 6:17 GMT

    Rajsatan is going to win. Akash Chopra, Kanitkar, manaria, Bhist all will score. Rajastan will score 500 plus in 1st inning. Morever they have better bowling line up than TN. CMOM RAJS'TN!!!!!

  • Navdev on January 19, 2012, 4:23 GMT

    Two most deserved teams are in the last hurdle..It will be a scintillating final..

    ALL THE BEST to TN.... hopefully they win the trophy and give few players to the current Indian side which is tottering in Oz..(thank god, al last many people have agreed that MSD is not fit for TEST cricket..)

    Future of Mukund, Bist, Badrinath, Karthick, singh duo (Pankaj & Rituraj) are to seriously looked by the selectors..

    @Suresh Sellappan No1,2 teams have always produced quality players.. for example from TN, We had Sathish, sriram, Rupan Paul, Badrinath, Dinesh Karthick,.... but none of them got enough chance to prove themselves in International cricket. the money minded BCCI and its selection committee have simply ignored such players..

    lets hope things change quickly..

  • Rahul_78 on January 19, 2012, 4:05 GMT

    @Suresh Sellappan Dont blame Rajasthan or Tamilnadu for not producing cricketers to play international cricket. You need to ask this question of selectors. It is the fascination of selectors with IPL that Rahul Sharma and Ashwin are in the chosen squad. The IPL stars have been selected to represent the country in ODIs and Tests that can explain a lot about India's current turmoil at the test level. Bist, Mukund and Pankaj are not lesser cricketers but unfortunately they are performing in Ranji and not IPL.

  • on January 19, 2012, 3:32 GMT

    TN Rocks!! Balaji is a better captain.Great example was his willingness to chase 147 runs in 14 overs..All the Best to TN..

  • AvidCricFan on January 19, 2012, 1:54 GMT

    None of the International players in TN team have performed well at international level. That advantage is a paper advantage. I would agree with Sellappan's comment about the state of Ranji level. Two teams in final with no real quality international level player.

  • MandarSathe on January 19, 2012, 0:25 GMT

    I think Rajasthan will win it... Main reason is cool captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar.. He is excellent in using his team resources and Rajasthan have abundance of good resources....And Rajasthan has experience of winning it last year too.... so 2 back to back Ranji title will be great for Team Rajasthan.....

    p.s.: I won't be surprised if Kanitkar is signed up by Pune IPL team after this Ranji trophy performance as they are looking for a good captain. (Yuvi n Smith doesn't seem the best choice)

  • on January 19, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    Rajsthan Opener's already shown what they are capable of doing at day 1 and will continue to do it over coming 4 days with both bat and ball. Good start for final. Now its time to open -up eyes for our national cricket team selection chairman Mr Srikant...its not a wise step that you tried to make a state team to a India Team. There has to be real talllent not like Murli Vijay and others from TN who had been given tons of opportunities at the highest level while best of the players were not able to made it despite of great show at domestic cricket. Come-n guys beat TN and show rest that we are the best and beat anyone

  • TRUE_INDIAN_101 on January 19, 2012, 11:22 GMT

    Well played Akash n Vineet. Go RAJASTAN GO!!!!

  • on January 19, 2012, 8:53 GMT

    jai rajputana........royal rajasthan on the hunt........

  • ssenthil on January 19, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    Déjà vu for Tamil Nadu. Rajasthan once again won the Toss and batting first in a FLAT pitch. Balaji didn't help his side either by conceding 17 runs in his first over. Rajasthan taken the momentum and now they are going to pile over 600 runs and TN will be in trouble and pressure when they start to bat. Century partnership already for the first wicket and TN is duly out of this Final from first session. Rajasthan holding the upper hand and TN looks already out of this match, their body language is not better and there is nothing in the pitch for the bowlers. That flat this pitch is

  • on January 19, 2012, 6:17 GMT

    Rajsatan is going to win. Akash Chopra, Kanitkar, manaria, Bhist all will score. Rajastan will score 500 plus in 1st inning. Morever they have better bowling line up than TN. CMOM RAJS'TN!!!!!

  • Navdev on January 19, 2012, 4:23 GMT

    Two most deserved teams are in the last hurdle..It will be a scintillating final..

    ALL THE BEST to TN.... hopefully they win the trophy and give few players to the current Indian side which is tottering in Oz..(thank god, al last many people have agreed that MSD is not fit for TEST cricket..)

    Future of Mukund, Bist, Badrinath, Karthick, singh duo (Pankaj & Rituraj) are to seriously looked by the selectors..

    @Suresh Sellappan No1,2 teams have always produced quality players.. for example from TN, We had Sathish, sriram, Rupan Paul, Badrinath, Dinesh Karthick,.... but none of them got enough chance to prove themselves in International cricket. the money minded BCCI and its selection committee have simply ignored such players..

    lets hope things change quickly..

  • Rahul_78 on January 19, 2012, 4:05 GMT

    @Suresh Sellappan Dont blame Rajasthan or Tamilnadu for not producing cricketers to play international cricket. You need to ask this question of selectors. It is the fascination of selectors with IPL that Rahul Sharma and Ashwin are in the chosen squad. The IPL stars have been selected to represent the country in ODIs and Tests that can explain a lot about India's current turmoil at the test level. Bist, Mukund and Pankaj are not lesser cricketers but unfortunately they are performing in Ranji and not IPL.

  • on January 19, 2012, 3:32 GMT

    TN Rocks!! Balaji is a better captain.Great example was his willingness to chase 147 runs in 14 overs..All the Best to TN..

  • AvidCricFan on January 19, 2012, 1:54 GMT

    None of the International players in TN team have performed well at international level. That advantage is a paper advantage. I would agree with Sellappan's comment about the state of Ranji level. Two teams in final with no real quality international level player.

  • MandarSathe on January 19, 2012, 0:25 GMT

    I think Rajasthan will win it... Main reason is cool captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar.. He is excellent in using his team resources and Rajasthan have abundance of good resources....And Rajasthan has experience of winning it last year too.... so 2 back to back Ranji title will be great for Team Rajasthan.....

    p.s.: I won't be surprised if Kanitkar is signed up by Pune IPL team after this Ranji trophy performance as they are looking for a good captain. (Yuvi n Smith doesn't seem the best choice)

  • TRAM on January 18, 2012, 23:18 GMT

    Of the 4 TN batsmen I would say only MVijay wasted his opportunities to play for India. Badri was given only 3 innings Test chance against Styne+Morkel and he scored 56 in one innings. Yet he was never given another chance. Mukund was given chance in England in swinging/seaming conditions and he fared far better than most big name Ind players. Most importantly as opener he stayed for hours in almost all innings. DKarthik was wasted by selectors+Dhoni by sending him opening. He was a very successful middle order batsman, but he had to agree for opening otherwise he wont get chance as long as Dhoni was the keeper. But he is the best keeper in India and very good bat plus has shown good leadership qualities. Now that Dhoni is not performing well DK must come back to India team.

  • on January 18, 2012, 19:18 GMT

    TN is much experienced as well as hungry than the reignin champs Rajasthan... Go TN Go.. Whistle Podu !!

  • on January 18, 2012, 18:58 GMT

    tamil nadu rockzzzz......

  • on January 18, 2012, 18:34 GMT

    go rajasthan go. Experience will count but finally it will be more important who will be more hungry.

  • on January 18, 2012, 17:59 GMT

    Awful status of Indian Cricket. Being No 1 and No 2 team in Ranji Trophy, They can't able to produce class players and what is the use of the Ranji champion. If you are Ranji Champion and not able to represent India. This is just a very bad shape of Indian Cricket so many useless teams in Ranji trophy and everyone seems have good statistics in terms of Runs and Wicket in the flat tracks. Everyone is Flat track bullies. Please reduce the no of teams to 6-8 and try to produce quality players.

  • Malret on January 18, 2012, 17:42 GMT

    This could be a career path changing game for a few folks especially Mukund. If he gets a big century and TN wins, he is back in the side if Sehwag falters again. Wow, not since a long time has a Ranji final been so anticipated.

  • braindead_rocker on January 18, 2012, 17:23 GMT

    TN players are fringe players only because of Srikanth's politics. Rajasthan will comfortably beat TN.

  • ssenthil on January 18, 2012, 17:12 GMT

    TN is going to the Final with lot of worries as their so called Fab 4 not in form against Mumbai. Mukund and Karthik had Only 2 centuries while Badri and Vijay has 1 each. This 4 must click as a unit in the Final unless TN once again have to be bailed out by little known players. On paper TN weak link was their bowling but if we have a look at it Balaji, Yo Mahesh, Kaushik and A Srinivas have done exceptionally well then their star batting line up. What Sunny Gupta is doing in the team? Rajasthan will be going in to the final more confident with A Chopra, R Hanitkar and Parida are professional players and R Bist as leading run scorer and Pankaj leading them in bowling. I believe it's going to be a good final as both team won't give up but I guess it's really boring Batting Rajasthan

  • TRAM on January 18, 2012, 16:31 GMT

    About half of TN team is India team !! ippadai thOrkin eppadai vellum (= who else can win other than TN?).

  • on January 18, 2012, 16:27 GMT

    Rajasthan ......... Come On Boys ... We have to do it Second Time in a Row. SINGH IS KING. PANKAJ AND RITURAJ .. SINGH.

  • skyeshwin on January 18, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    Hopefully TN will win the Ranji Trophy. All the very best to them.

  • on January 18, 2012, 16:10 GMT

    go rajasthan go, n prove who is true champion.

  • on January 18, 2012, 16:08 GMT

    Why Pankaj Singh never get a chance to play for India is still a surprise for me , May be people like him need to be succeeded in IPL to get selected for test matches:(

  • NikhilNair on January 18, 2012, 15:31 GMT

    Going to be a good contest... MAY THE BEST TEAM WIN!

  • PrajithR on January 18, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    I would like Rajasthan to win, given their better record (3 wins, 6 draws) than TN (1 win, 7 draws)... But TN winning on a flat track with 1 st innings lead is more possible given the record of the pitch (All matches in Chepauk have been drawn)... And expect the Media to hail some these flat pitch bullies as the future of Indian Cricket

  • chennaitimes on January 18, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    TN will win,Mukund will be the tournament highest run getter.Expecting Karthick to play his shots and will make big score.Go TN ,now or never.Badri,Karthik deserve to win this trophy.

  • on January 18, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    go rajasthan.. show it again..

  • Y2SJ on January 18, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    That is going to be a good contest. Hope TN wins.

  • on January 18, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    Go Rajasthan Go........WE are True Champion n Prove this With Win........

  • theswami on January 18, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Namma pasanga will win for sure ... cakewalk ...

    Congrats in advance !!!

  • Captain_Crick on January 18, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    TamilNadu looks likely to win in their home turf with slow and low conditions. Had it been a well rolled pitch assisting seamers, the game could have been predicted to be much closer and interesting. May the better team win!

  • on January 18, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    Best of luck to Tamilnadu. Very good team with experienced players who should click and handle pressure well. The absence of star player Ashwin is keenly felt.

  • on January 18, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    The key to the game will be the battle between TN's "India fringe" top 4: Mukund, Vijay, Badrinath, Karthik and Rajasthan's 3 fast Singhs: Rituraj, Gajendra and Pankaj

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • on January 18, 2012, 11:50 GMT

    The key to the game will be the battle between TN's "India fringe" top 4: Mukund, Vijay, Badrinath, Karthik and Rajasthan's 3 fast Singhs: Rituraj, Gajendra and Pankaj

  • on January 18, 2012, 11:56 GMT

    Best of luck to Tamilnadu. Very good team with experienced players who should click and handle pressure well. The absence of star player Ashwin is keenly felt.

  • Captain_Crick on January 18, 2012, 12:21 GMT

    TamilNadu looks likely to win in their home turf with slow and low conditions. Had it been a well rolled pitch assisting seamers, the game could have been predicted to be much closer and interesting. May the better team win!

  • theswami on January 18, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    Namma pasanga will win for sure ... cakewalk ...

    Congrats in advance !!!

  • on January 18, 2012, 13:57 GMT

    Go Rajasthan Go........WE are True Champion n Prove this With Win........

  • Y2SJ on January 18, 2012, 14:09 GMT

    That is going to be a good contest. Hope TN wins.

  • on January 18, 2012, 14:45 GMT

    go rajasthan.. show it again..

  • chennaitimes on January 18, 2012, 14:54 GMT

    TN will win,Mukund will be the tournament highest run getter.Expecting Karthick to play his shots and will make big score.Go TN ,now or never.Badri,Karthik deserve to win this trophy.

  • PrajithR on January 18, 2012, 15:22 GMT

    I would like Rajasthan to win, given their better record (3 wins, 6 draws) than TN (1 win, 7 draws)... But TN winning on a flat track with 1 st innings lead is more possible given the record of the pitch (All matches in Chepauk have been drawn)... And expect the Media to hail some these flat pitch bullies as the future of Indian Cricket

  • NikhilNair on January 18, 2012, 15:31 GMT

    Going to be a good contest... MAY THE BEST TEAM WIN!