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M Venkataramana replaces D Vasu as Tamil Nadu coach

The former India offspinner says his priority is to revive the side's Ranji Trophy fortunes

Deivarayan Muthu
Tamil Nadu won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy under Venkataramana's predecessor D Vasu  •  NurPhoto/Getty Images

Tamil Nadu won the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy under Venkataramana's predecessor D Vasu  •  NurPhoto/Getty Images

M Venkataramana, the former India and Tamil Nadu offspinner, has been roped in as the state side's new coach ahead of the 2021-22 domestic season, which sees the return of the Ranji Trophy.
Venkataramana takes over from D Vasu, under whom Tamil Nadu enjoyed an unbeaten run to the Syed Mushtaq Ali title this year. In the 2019-20 season, Vasu's Tamil Nadu side had finished runners-up in both the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Venkataramana hoped to maintain those standards in white-ball cricket, but his top priority is to revive the side in the Ranji Trophy. Tamil Nadu have not qualified for the Ranji knockouts since 2016-17, when they lost to Mumbai in the semi-finals.
"Ranji Trophy will be the goal," Venkataramana told ESPNcricinfo. "We've been doing well in white-ball cricket for the last two years and now we have to do well in the red-ball duration games. We start off with T20 and one-dayers and by then we will know who are the players in form - so that will help us to form a formidable side for the duration games.
"Even though it's not the best choice to pick [for the Ranji Trophy] from the one-day side, at least you can see how the guys are in shape after one-and-half years. Already, they've done a good job under previous coach D Vasu in the shorter versions. We have to continue the good work that Vasu has done and I'm looking forward to it [the challenge]."
Tamil Nadu's players are currently involved in the 20-overs Tamil Nadu Premier League in Chennai, which, according to Venkataramana, will help tune up the players for the long season after the Covid-enforced lockdown in the state.
"TNPL will help the boys to get in shape," Venkataramana said. "Somewhere they have game-time and it will help. A smart cricketer can adapt to any format. If you're good enough to play T20 and one-day, you can also play the longer format."
Venkataramana brings with him TNPL coaching experience, having been in charge of the Dindigul Dragons from 2016 to 2019. During his tenure, the Dragons reached the knockouts three times in four seasons before S Badrinath took over as the franchise's coach for the ongoing season. In addition to stints at the NCA [National Cricket Academy] in Bengaluru, Venkataramana has also worked at the ICC-accredited bowling-action testing facility in Chennai. Along with his former spin-bowling colleague Vasu, Venkataramana helped correct former India left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha's action at that facility.
Venkataramana played 75 first-class matches and 30 List A games, taking 247 and 36 wickets respectively. In his debut Ranji season, in 1987-88, he emerged as the joint-highest wicket-taker, with 35 strikes in eight matches at an average of 20.45. Eight of those wickets came in the final against Railways at Chepauk, where Tamil Nadu secured the title with an innings victory.
That season's performance earned Venkataramana an India call-up, but he only got to play one Test and one ODI.
The Indian domestic season will begin on October 20 with the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy, which will be followed by the Ranji Trophy and the Vijay Hazare Trophy.

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo