Gujarat, on home turf, could be a tenacious opponent — especially when Parthiv Patel is available to lead from the front — for Tamil Nadu as the two teams clash in their Ranji Trophy Elite group B match at Motera's Sardar Patel stadium here starting Tuesday.
The return of the Indian wicket-keeper and opener will bolster the home team's morale against the group topper Tamil Nadu (14 points from one win, three draws).
Flying in from Chennai after keeping-wickets for the National side during the ODI series win over West Indies, the left-hander touched base with the team think-tank and his teammates at the nets on Monday.
Gujarat's slide to defeat in the previous two games when he away on national duty and the resultant fifth position of six sides in the league, leaves Parthiv with no option but to try and make a rescue attempt by personal example.
Parthiv's huge role in Gujarat's sole victory — over an established side like Delhi — will infuse Gujarat with hope for its second home game.
“Getting that mood back is very difficult, taking charge is the only option for me,” he said, following a lengthy discussion with the side's seniors and coaches on Monday.
With seven points, his team is above only Bengal.
The squad for the match against Tamil Nadu may have new faces, in keeping with the Gujarat captain's call for change.
“Youngsters mean fresh legs and, with nothing to lose, are more likely to go all out. The situation demands our best effort,” he said.
For Parthiv and his teammates, the desperation to stay in the Elite group could be the fuel to ignite courage.
While home advantage would come in handy to help youngsters overcome stage fright, the problem for Gujarat would be in sustaining the mood session after session, against a rival determined to make up for past seasons of underachievement.
Skipper Laxmipathy Balaji and coach Abdul Jabbar, who did not want to comment on the eve of the match, believe in collective performances over next four days to state their case.
S. Badrinath, Balaji and Dinesh Karthik are all leaders in their own right, and, together with youngsters Aushik Srinivas and off-spinner Baba Aparajith, have forged a formidable squad.
Tamil Nadu has more weapons in Abhinav Mukund, Vasudeva Das, Ramaswamy Prasanna, Jagannathan Kaushik to beat rivals at their own game.
Parthiv on home turf, leading a clutch of youngsters with minds not muddled by self-doubt, and experienced hands Niraj Patel and Ashraf Makda can stare down any opponent.
Whether positive body language can be backed with performances remains to be seen.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy