In the age of Twenty 20 and franchise cricket, the Ranji Trophy might not get the same attention it deserves as the country’s premier domestic tournament. But every now and then, there is a buzz surrounding a Ranji encounter. On Friday, old rivalries will be renewed when Tamil Nadu takes on Karnataka in the penultimate match of Elite Group-C here at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.
The stakes can’t be higher for both sides, as whoever comes out ahead at the end of this encounter will feel they have a foot in the knock-outs. The neighbours are evenly matched with contrasting strengths and are tied on top of the group, having 21 points, with the hosts ahead on run quotient and two bonus points.
With the wind behind its sails after three consecutive outright wins, Tamil Nadu will look to bank on its spin strength again on a red-soil pitch at Chepauk. The team’s top-order, led by N. Jagadeesan, Pradosh Ranjan Paul and B. Indrajith, is in good touch while left-arm spinners R. Sai Kishore and S. Ajith Ram have bowled the team to victories with able support from pacer Sandeep Warrier.
Meanwhile, Karnataka is battle-hardened after prevailing over Tripura and Railways in its last two matches, which were nail-biters. However, with an inexperienced spin attack, the visitors must rely on its pace bowling strength and solid batting depth to come out on top in spin-friendly conditions.
The team got a boost with the return of the in-form Devdutt Padikkal and skipper Mayank Agarwal. The latter has recovered from a freakish incident when he accidentally consumed toxic liquid that he mistook for water on a flight and missed the previous game against Railways.
The last time the two sides met in the Ranji Trophy, Karnataka got the better of TN in Dindigul by 26 runs in a match that saw fortunes swinging wildly until the last session on the final day. A similar game would be befitting of a clash of the table-toppers.