After a dismal Syed Mushtaq Ali campaign, Tamil Nadu’s focus shifts to Vijay Hazare Trophy

Hari Nishaanth... TN’s top scorer in SMAT 2023. 

Hari Nishaanth… TN’s top scorer in SMAT 2023. 
| Photo Credit: File photo

 After crashing out of the group stages of the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy for the second year in a row, a few Tamil Nadu players started training for the Vijay Hazare Trophy here on Monday.

Slotted in one Group E, one of the most competitive groups, TN had a poor campaign, finishing fifth out of seven teams with three wins and two defeats (one game was washed out).

While Delhi topped the group with five victories, Uttar Pradesh (NRR: 1.816), Karnataka (1.358), Madhya Pradesh (0.181) and Tamil Nadu (-0.282) were tied on 14 points with the same number of wins and losses.

Led by Washington Sundar, Tamil Nadu started its campaign positively by defending a small target against UP (eight-run win) before beating Tripura comprehensively by eight wickets.

Going off the rails

But the team’s campaign went off the rails against Delhi when it was bundled out for 67 while chasing 192, and the big defeat dealt a blow to its net run-rate. The team committed the cardinal sin of not playing the 20 overs as leggie Suyash Sharma ran through the line-up with a spell of four for five to bundle out the side in just 13 overs.

Had TN tried to bat out the 20 overs and reached a respectable total, there was a chance it could have salvaged its NRR.

In the next game against MP, the team failed to build on a solid start and slumped from 127 for two in the 16th over to end up with just 154 for six. In reply, MP chased down the target with seven wickets in hand.

The Tamil Nadu batters failed to adapt to the conditions in Dehradun where the pitches were two-paced. With the bat, only Hari Nishaanth — who topped the run charts with 146 — Vijay Shankar, and B. Sai Sudharsan got half-centuries, but the middle- and lower-order’s struggle cost the team dear in the two losses. Amongst the bowlers, only Varun Chakravarthy starred with six scalps while R. Sai Kishore was economical.

With less than three weeks to go for the Vijay Hazare tournament, the team will need to get its act together quickly. There could be changes for the one-dayers, with Dinesh Karthik likely to return to the side.

The TNPL has helped the side to be consistent in the shorter formats with most key players part of the IPL. However, the lack of silverware in the last two years in T20s will be something the management would want to address soon.

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