Tamil Nadu v Rajasthan, Ranji Trophy final, Chennai

Experience against hunger in Ranji final

Nagraj Gollapudi in Chennai

January 18, 2012

Comments: 33 | Text size: A | A

Rituraj Singh finished with 12 wickets for the match, 1st semi-final, Ranji Trophy 2011-12, Lahli, 3rd day, January 12, 2012
Rituraj Singh has 22 wickets at 14.31 with three five-wicket hauls in just three matches © Kamal Sharma
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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

RSS Feeds: Nagraj Gollapudi

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   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

Posted by TRUE_INDIAN_101 on (January 19, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

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

Posted by   on (January 19, 2012, 8:53 GMT)

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

Posted by 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

Posted by   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!!!!!

Posted by 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..

Posted by 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.

Posted by   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..

Posted by 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.

Posted by 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)

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Tournament Results
Tamil Nadu v Rajasthan at Chennai - Jan 19-23, 2012
Match drawn (Rajasthan won on 1st innings)
Mumbai v Tamil Nadu at Mumbai - Jan 10-13, 2012
Match drawn (Tamil Nadu won on 1st innings)
Haryana v Rajasthan at Rohtak - Jan 10-12, 2012
Rajasthan won by 64 runs
Hyderabad v Rajasthan at Hyderabad (Deccan) - Jan 2-5, 2012
Match drawn (Rajasthan won on 1st innings)
M. Pradesh v Mumbai at Indore - Jan 2-5, 2012
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Tamil Nadu v Maharashtra at Chennai - Jan 2-5, 2012
Match drawn (Tamil Nadu won on 1st innings)
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