A Forgettable Ranji Season And Five Unforgettable Lessons For TN Cricket

Tamil Nadu has been considered a powerhouse side in domestic cricket thanks to its very thriving league structure, a luxurious administrative set up and fan following of knowledgeable tribe. They are defending Vijay Hazare and Deodhar Trophy champions and their champion players doing well in Duleep Trophy, India A etc, Tamil Nadu was considered one of the favourites to lift the trophy and end their 30 year hiatus. However Tamil Nadu (with 5 draws and one loss), Tamil Nadu failed to qualify for the knockouts this season. It also created a peculiar record this season. After 71 seasons, Tamil Nadu has not won at least one league match. TN has had a very forgettable Ranji season 2017-18 and this article highlights five important lessons that the side should not forget.

Top Order Tantrums

Abhinav Mukund had been the first and only player to hit 800 runs in four consecutive Ranji Trophy seasons. The captain had his poorest season of the decade scoring only 247 runs in 9 innings..He lacked a steady opening partner last year. But he was able to strike a chord with the find of the last season Kaushik Gandhi. Kaushik Gandhi top scored for TN last season and was hailed as the next Badrinath. The most important problem for TN this season was their top order failures. Except for the match against Tripura, there was no instance of the opening partnership crossing 25. Abhinav had different partners in Vijay, Jagadeesan and Washington Sundar. Kaushik Gandhi had to be dropped for a couple of games owing to poor form. The absence of stability in the top order put consistent pressure in the middle order and the lower order which handled them well except for the last match against Baroda accounting for the only failure. For the seasons ahead, TN should look for a solid opening partnership and a steady one down player.


No Brace in Pace

When the neutral venues concept was introduced last year, the onus on TN bowling shifted from spin to pace. Three relatively new comers K Vignesh, Aswin Crist and T Natarajan took it upon themselves to bowl their hearts and the opposition out. With injury accounting for Aswin Crist and T Natarajan, K Vignesh had to play a lone hand. Fast bowlers hunt in pairs. But K Vignesh had to hunt for an ideal pair. Yomahesh shone more as an all rounder. Mohammed could not add consistency to his strikes. TN had tried out L Vignesh, V Lakshman, Vijay Shankar and J Kousik but the pace battery could not generate charge on the field. The inability to bowl out Odisha for 530 and importantly allowing the lower middle order to consistently get back into the game were huge blots for the side. TN needs to ensure that they have their strike bowlers ready for Ranji and that the bowlers strike not only early but also consistently.


Spin can always win

While reports are already surfacing that Tamil Nadu will emphasize on wrist spinners for the season, the fingers are clearly on the finger spinners. Ashwin was available for the first three matches and all round utility of Washington Sundar ensured that he would play all matches. In addition, TN needed a specialist orthodox spinner. Rahil Shah and Sai Kishore were tried and tried again. Malolan Rangarajan played a match and went wicketless after bowling few short spells. Last year, Aushik Srinivas was drafted late into the side and provided the best support to the pace trio. There was no talk of him this season. The TN think tank failed to plan the spin attack and that put extra pressure on the pacers. This I thought was the sole reason for our bowlers not being able to go for the kill. I am sure TN needs specialist spinners who can boost the strike rate and also boast of economy rate.


Test is Special (ists)

Test Cricket is the special and it demands specialists. Tamil Nadu had one all rounder too many with the spin and pace departments which did not work out in their favour. There was a dearth of specialist batsmen and bowlers. For the last match against Baroda which TN lost, the side had four specialist batsmen, one keeper, three allrounders and three bowlers. Compromising an all rounder with a specialist batsman could have made a lot of difference. The same composition failed us against Odisha game. We could have easily dented Odisha with a specialist bowler rather than an all rounder. I always believe that two all rounders is one too many for test cricket.


Settle and Secure for Success

TN team had a very settled look last season, but there were changes every other match. Chennai Super Kings showed the world that a settled side with secure spots helps in keeping up the winning momentum, that too in the shortest format. However, there was way too much experimentation in TN squad. Only four players Abhinav Mukund, Baba Indrajith, Washington Sundar and K Vignesh played all the 6 matches. Though Vijay, Ashwin and Karthik were away on national duty, their replacements were not easy fits. The batting order also had lot of shifts, except for the Baba Twins. The Baba Twins not only secured their No 4 and No 5 slots but also emerged top scorers. The saying goes "Change Nothing and Nothing Changes". For Tamil Nadu, they changed many things and many things changed out of their favour.


Tamil Nadu should have easily made it to the semi finals. Nature played spoilsport against Tripura. Batsmen let the side down against Andhra and bowlers against Odisha. The team did itself a favour securing 3 points against Mumbai. However the whole team let the side down against MP where it needed an outright win. And a team that was already down could not salvage pride against Baroda. Not a case of better luck next time, I think it is case for better planning and preparations.

Article Posted By : reavanlView All Articles

Rathnavel Ponnuswami is an ardent follower of Tamil Nadu Cricket.

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TN , Tamil Nadu , Ranji Trophy , domestic , cricket , first class , abhinav mukund ,


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