Strong TN faces Andhra in Ranji opener
Chennai, Oct 5 (PTI) Boosted by the presence of Test players R Ashwin and Murali Vijay, Tamil Nadu will be looking to start its Ranji Trophy campaign on a strong note in its Group 'C' fixture against Andhra Pradesh here tomorrow.
The former champions would start favourites against the visiting side, led by Hanuma Vihari and comprising a mix of experienced players and youngsters.
The home team, led by Abhinav Mukund, would eye for a strong start to the tournament, which is back to the home and away format after the trial of neutral venues concept last season.
Weather would also hold a key with the city receiving rainfall in the past two days.
Ashwin and Vijay would be expected to use their experience and make important contributions to the team.
The hosts boasts of a strong batting line-up comprising M Kaushik Gandhi, who scored heavily in the previous season, the talented young Baba brothers - Indrajith and Aparajith -- and flamboyant wicketkeeper-batsman N Jagadeesan.
If the stylish Vijay, who has been out of the national side since the Australia series owing to injury, gets going at the top with Mukund, Tamil Nadu would be well served.
Ashwin is coming off an impressive performance for Worcestershire in the English County circuit and his inputs could be crucial for the young spinners in the squad including the fast improving M S Washington Sundar.
The lanky spinning all-rounder can also be handy with the willow and it would be interesting to see which position he gets to bat.
The pitch at the M A Chidambaram Stadium has usually favoured the slower bowlers.
K Vignesh would spearhead the pace attack which also includes L Vignesh and newcomer V Lakshman while Ashwin leads the spinners also featuring Sundar, Rahil Shah and Malolan Rangarajan.
Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar said he was happy with the pre-season preparations adding that the focus would be on playing good cricket.
"We had a good camp in Deharadun where we worked on all the departments and fitness. It was good preparation for the new season," he told PTI.
He said the Andhra was a good team. "The Andhra team is a balanced one and we can expect a good match," he added.
The Vihari-led side has got a good mixture of youth and experience which includes former India international Y Venugopala Rao. Apart from Rao, DB Ravi Teja and Vijay Kumar were players who would have a big role to play while a bunch of youngsters can infuse energy to the team.
Vihari would hope to lead from the front and expect for solid performances from Rao, the talented Ricky Bhui and B Sumanth.
The bowling unit led by Vijay Kumar and B Ayyappa has its work cut out against a formidable Tamil Nadu batting line-up and holds the key for the team's fortunes