Baffling decisions by Tamil Nadu think tank mark final day of the Ranji Trophy match against Railways
Abhinav Mukund, Ashwin lose out on opportunities on the Final day
The final day of Tamil Nadu’s Ranji match against Railways at the MA Chidambaram Stadium left one completely disappointed with the attitude of the team (read captain and coach). Having already qualified for the knock out stage, Tamil Nadu chose to bat out (with a changed batting order) the entire final day with a drab batting display instead of giving the bowlers the opportunity of a work out, ahead of the knock out match.
At the end of day 3, TN led by around 175 with all 10 wickets in hand (having led by around 150 on the first innings). Another 125-150 runs on the final morning may have been enough for Tamil Nadu bowlers.
Every indicator would have endorsed this decision- TN had already qualified for the knock out, Railways was out of contention and clearly disinterested in the proceedings on the final day and TN bowlers desperately needed a bowl (especially Ashwin and C. Suresh).
2 things stood out:
1. Not going for outright win/ Giving bowlers the opportunity
The decision to not give its bowlers a chance to have a go at a not so strong and a disinterested Railways team was baffling. Mind you, R. Ashwin has not been amongst big wickets this season, with L. Balaji coming back strong from his injury in the early league matches this season. Would Ashwin not have liked to bowl about 10-15overs ahead of the crucial knock out match later this week?
Would not have Yo Mahesh, who bowled very well in the 2nd half of day 3 and took 4 wickets to help TN with a sizeable lead, liked to have had a go at the Railways top order further boosting the confidence he had gained in the first innings, just 24 hours ago.
Has C. Suresh bowled enough this season (he bowled only 12overs in the first innings)? Was this not a great opportunity to give him a decent bowl in the 2nd innings ahead of the Knock out match in Bangalore.
Obviously, the TN think tank led by Dinesh Karthik and Coach WV Raman did not think it fit to set Railways a target on the final day…Did they fear Railways scoring 300 in 50odd overs on a final day pitch( i.e if TN had declared shortly after lunch). Is that the confidence TN has in its bowlers and against a reasonably weak Railways batting line up (whom TN had bowled out for 200 in the first innings).
2. Changes in the batting order
If Tamil Nadu had indeed decided last evening or this morning that they were not going for the outright and that there would be no declaration today on the final day, what business did they have to push Abhinav Mukund to No. 6.
Here is a boy, just 18 years and playing only his 2nd season in Ranji cricket, who reached 1000 Ranji runs in 11 matches with a brilliant 150 in the first innings against Railways, being asked to bat at No.6.
If indeed you had decided to bat out the day, why not give this talented youngster another chance to build on his profile of being a prolific scorer by sending him in his usual opening slot. Abhinav is no legend yet that you would rest him from batting and give others (even if they too are youngsters!!!) the opportunity. Abhinav is still in the process of establishing himself as the long standing opener for TN. He, earlier this year, unfortunately missed out on the chances at the U19 world cup (Virat Kohli who played there, has already moved up the ladder).
Lost Opportunity for Abhinav and Ashwin
Every innings and every match is crucial for emerging players and Abhinav and Ashwin have missed out on an opportunity to further stage their claims at the higher level. In fact, Dinesh Karthik, the captain, himself has just had a terrible run with the Indian team and that’s the reason he was in Chennai today and not in Mohali!!! Does he think that a double hundred and a hundred is good enough for him to take it easy on day 4 of a Ranji match (Unfortunately wicket keepers these days are judged on the number of runs they score).
Did he not see this (today’s 2nd innings) as yet another opportunity for him to impress upon the national selectors (Parthiv Patel has also got a double hundred in this round of matches. Having decided not to declare, should he not have batted in the top 4 and amassed more runs.
Who required practice today- Batsmen or the TN Bowlers?
Did TN Captain/Coach/Team Management require today’s batting display (by Arun Karthik/Prasanna/Vidyut/ Suresh Kumar) to conclusively decide as to who will make way for Badri and Vijay in the next match… I wonder !!!!!!!!!!!!
It was the time for Abhinav Mukund to score more runs as an opener (till the declaration time or to bat through the day), it was time for Yo Mahesh and Ashwin to bowl and see if they could bowl out Railways on day 4 (in worst case scenario, it would have been a good, competitive bowling practice for them).
Unfortunately, it turned out to be runs galore against a disinterested Railways bowling attack (Sanjay Bangar for a long part of the day didn’t bother to even change the field. He just let the game drift to a tame draw. Murali Kartik did not bowl, choosing to stand at slip and short mid wicket through the day).
Clearly, Yo Mahesh, C. Suresh and Ashwin lost out on an opportunity today. It would have been a nice challenge for Yo and Ashwin to bowl with a target of 300+ in 50 overs…and it would have made up for a good competitive bowl for them ahead of the knock out match.
Abhinav, M. Vijay, S. Badrinath and Dinesh Karthik have been in top batting form this season and they are confirmed choices for the next match and will fill the top 4 batting slots. Off Spinner Ashwin has just scored a century in the first innings and has many times in the past made useful batting contributions down the order.
Hence, if at all practice was required on the last day, it was for the bowlers of Tamil Nadu, not their batsmen. It would have been invaluable for Yo Mahesh and Ashwin to turn their arm over on the final day than have Arun Karthik and Suresh Kumar batting out a large part of the day(and despite their knocks on the final day, they may be the ones to be left out of the knock out fixture).