Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tamil Nadu - Too Near Yet Too Far


This article is an insight on one of the teams in Ranji Trophy – India’s premier domestic tournament. Those following Indian cricket will know what I mean to say. While Mumbai has been the dominant force of Domestic field in India, last two decades have seen two teams constantly challenging Mumbai from south zone in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Both the sides blessed with immense talent, have been among top performers over the past two decades.

Karnataka however with its legendary heroes Kumble, Dravid, Srinath and Prassad apart from consistent performers have managed to hold on the Trophy more than a couple of times in recent 15 years. Infact at a point of time, they had as many as 9 players who have played international cricket. – Kumble, Srinath, Prasad, Dravid, Somsundar, Johnson, Ganesh, Joshi and Bharadwaj. Even today Karanatka’s legacy is represented by Dravid who has ended up behind Tendulkar as second most run getter ever, Uthappa, Vinay Kumar and Abhimanyu Mithun in national team.

But with Tamil Nadu it has been a similar story. Be it zonal methods of early 1990s or super leagues of late 1990s and early 2000s or the Elite-Plate groups now, TN had been one team that has been consistently on Top draw of points table most times just to lose the Knock outs. Regular semifinal exit (4 times) and being Runners Up (thrice) and few more quarter final loss meant TN falters to deceive at critical stage. Irony is that an IPL franchise based on Tamil Nadu (Chennai) i.e., Chennai Super Kings is the most successful IPL franchise and among the strongest Club teams in the world.

A look into the Tamil Nadu team gives a good idea. The batting is opened by Murali Vijay and Abhinav Mukund. Not long ago they were opening for Indian team. Vijay who has floundered in chances with national team is still a big force in domestic scene with his power packed batting. Mukund, the south paw is among the promising youngster batsmen in the country and he proved his credintials with some fighting innings in tough English conditions. In Ranji matches, he is a big force to reckon.

Arun Karthink, solid batsman who made news recently hitting a last ball six for RCB in CLT20 bats at No 3. He is followed by domestic run machine namely Subramaniam Badrinath. Badrinath is among the unluckiest cricketer’s in India right now. He must have been a permanent member of Indian team by now had there been little luck. That being said, he continues to dominate any attack in domestic cricket. He is followed by Dinesh Kaarthik. Kaarthik was India’s premier reserve player, be it opener or middle order or wicket keeper until a year back. He has quality to sustain high quality bowling in tough conditions as in England circa 2007. Needless to say the impact he has on domestic attacks in benign conditions. At No 6, Anirudhha Srikanth, a hard hitting batsman who can also open, bats with assurance. Vasudevadas has also been successful in the absence of one the first choice players. For few seasons, Rajagopal Satish an ICL recruit held the lower middle order successfully. He is among the country’s best fielders having been lauded by none other than Jonty Rhodes himself in IPL. Newer entrants like Baba Aparajith are trying to match the established ones.

Bowling is not that bad, though is comparatively a lesser forte. Balaji and Ashwin lead the respective departments and well for an Indian discard, Balaji is having decent returns every season. Ashwin needs no vouching. He has kick started his test career with a Man of the Match award and is sure to go a long way. He was TN’s chief spinner until last year bamboozling the domestic batsmen with his offbreaks and special one – Carrom ball. Suresh Kumar was a worthy replacement to Ashwin in last two seasons too. Aushik Srinivas is another prodigy promising to have a great career in future. Yo Mahesh was an Under 19 star of India. Suresh is also not a pushover either. Prabhu has been good recently. Sunil Sam has been promising too. This season Kowshik appears to provide good support to Balaji.

Earlier before the present group line up read: Ramesh, Sriram, Badani, Sharath many of whom made it to Team India without much success. Sharath alone missed out though he deserved it too. Batting has been forte for Tamil Nadu always and bowling has been decent if not great. Yet they managed to be the Best side on every League only to disappoint in the Knock Out and Final hurdle. Season after season, league games had brought the best out of the side. However at the first hurdle in Knock outs they falter. They just seem to freeze in the knockouts. Not always had they lost deservingly in Knockouts like a Sachin classic shuttling them out of Semifinals a decade back. Mostly it has been losing via first innings deficit. What is the reason is beyond explanation though. They have choked at last moment every time. 
Can Tamil Nadu carry on their form in Yellow to Whites?

 
Heartening thing is that Tamil Nadu side has won quite a few domestic tournaments including the Ranji Trophy ODIs and Syed Mustaq Ali T20 Tournament in the recent years while they have failed to cross the final hurdle in Ranji Trophy. They won the Vijay Hazare trophy in 2009-10 and 2008-09. Can they manage to carry this success to the Whites is a question they need to address at the earliest.

Even Tamil Nadu’s representation in Team India has been a slip between the cup and the lip. Ever since the present Chairman of Selectors, Krishnamachri Shrikanth retired, the Tamil Nadu players’ presence in the national side has been a mirage. With powerful performance in the domestic season players have managed to break into the senior side at regularly. W.V.Ramesh, S.Ramesh, S.Sriram, H.Badani, D.Kaarthik, L.Balaji to S.Badrinath have all got a go into the national side but could not sustain their place. Robin Singh alone had a decent career with Team India, being the last recognized true all rounder to have played for a substantial period, but that was very late into his career. S.Ramesh, H.Badani and S.Sriram all had starts and floundered. Kaarthik was never given a proper run and on his part, wasted his chances. Badrinath is unlucky and that is a big topic for another day. Ashwin is showing promise at the moment and must end up with great career if he plays to his potential. Not just side as a whole, even the individuals are getting it “too near yet too far”.

Tamil Nadu in last Decade and half in Ranji Trophy:-

2010-11:          

Semi finals Loss Vs Rajasthan (by First Innings deficit)
2009-10:

Quarter finals Loss Vs Delhi (by First Innings deficit)
2008-09:

Semi finals Loss Vs Uttar Pradesh (by First Innings deficit)
2007-08:

Quarter finals Loss Vs Delhi (By outright defeat)
2006-07:

Missing out Semi finals being 3rd in Group
2005-06:

Missing out Semi finals being 3rd in Group
2004-05:

Missing out Semi finals being 4th  in Group
2003-04:

Final Loss Vs Mumbai (by First Innings deficit)
2002-03:

Final Loss Vs Mumbai (By outright defeat)
2001-02:

Quarter Final Loss Vs Railways (by First innings deficit)
2000-01:

Quarter Final Loss Vs Baroda (by outright defeat)
1999-00:

Semis Loss Vs Mumbai (By First Innings deficit)
1998-99:

Quarter Final Loss Vs Punjab (By First Innings deficit)
1997-98:

Suspended from Super League Phase with Delhi
1996-97:

Missed out Quarters (Losing Pre Quarter finals)
1995-96:

Final Loss Vs Karnataka (by First Innings deficit)

5 comments:

  1. Karnataka, Tamilnadu and Hyderabad are the only three sides of substance in South Zone. This has been the case for more than half a decade. Of these three, Hyderabad had fallen by the wayside in the last decade with internal politics of HCA making more headlines than the team's performance. Karnataka has more often been the team to beat in the zone and in some time phases at the national level which only Mumbai could achieve.

    Tamilnadu and its players have been, for the most part, nearly there. It is this curious aspect of its cricket that needs explanation. If the riddle can be solved, Tamilnadu can rule the roost and its players can command longer tenures in the Indian side. One wonders whether TNCA is really doing anything significant in this direction.

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  2. With this kind of record in the finals, it will be fair to say Tamil Nadu are South Africa of Indian domestic circuit. But they deserve to win the coveted trophy.

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  3. Quality artice,Arvind:) Great work!
    Tamil Nadu are the South Africa of Indian Domestic Cricket,especially in Ranji Trophy.They promise so much but something happens when it matters the most and they get eliminated.Last year,Badri played an incredible knock at SMS Jaipur.TN just needed to bat out some 10 overs as that would have taken them to the final on run-rate.They have been quite unlucky at times.
    Another instance was 2 yrs back when TN,after posting a 450 couldn't get Delhi out below their total and hence Delhi got the first inns lead..
    However,the most heart-breaking loss was against UP in the 2008 season when TN made 450 again batting first and had UP on the mat at 63-3,that's when a player called Shivkant Shukla batted for 821 mins to take UP just past TN's total and get the 1st inns lead.I remember following the scores on Cricinfo for the game,me along with a couple of my friends were shell-shocked as we just couldn't get Shukla out..

    They have a few new guys coming into the team this year,hope they'll bring some luck along with them and hopefully,we can see TN lift the Ranji Trophy for the first time since 1988!

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  4. Good article, Mr. Arvind. I agree that TN are the SA of Indian domestic cricket. This season is only my second, so the last I can recount is last year's heart-breaking semi-final exit with Badri scoring a brilliant 170+ score in vain. It has been quite an issue. Hopefully this time around, we win this trophy not crumble in the knock-outs like before. Yes, the Badri issue has been there for quite sometime, even I agree he should have been there.

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  5. Yup and I agree that M. Vijay squandered his opportunities.

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