Despite big names gracing the Tamil Nadu dressing room over the years, the team has managed to win the Ranji Trophy only once. On Sunday, L. Balaji will lead his players into the 2013 season opener, hoping to set a winning template.

Despite the heroics last year, when it reached the semifinals, Services remains largely made up of players big on heart but short on experience, barring 38-year-old Sarabjit Singh and Yashpal Singh (31).

In contrast, the visitors have five players — including Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik and Abhinav Mukund —desperate to return to national duty and at least three with a realistic chance. “We are aware Services did very well last year and cannot be taken lightly.

“But as a team, we are looking at settling as a unit as quickly as possible and being able to do the things we expect to do,” said Tamil Nadu coach W.V. Raman.

Grass to remain

The wicket at the Services ground in Palam almost merges with the outfield and curator Ashok Sharma assures there will be no trimming of the grass. But, the teams shrug off any importance of the toss.

“The wicket and conditions will be the same for both teams, so there are no issues.

“And the BCCI directives say there has to be at least 2.5mm grass on the surface, so no special instructions,” insisted Services captain Soumik Chatterjee.

Chatterjee was one of the heroes of Services’ dream run last year and is keen on doing better this time around.

“We have trained harder both on and off the field. We now know that we can fight the bigger teams,” Chatterjee added.

The teams (from):

Services: Soumik Chatterjee (capt.), Pratik Desai, Rajat Paliwal, Irfan Khan, Koteshwar Rao, Nishan Singh, Soumya Swain, Nakul Verma, Yashpal Singh, Suraj Yadav, Vishnu Tiwari, Sarabjit Singh, Shadab Nazar, Rahul Kanojia and Anshul Gupta.

Tamil Nadu: L. Balaji (capt.), Murali Vijay, S. Badrinath, Abhinav Mukund, K.B. Arun Karthik, Dinesh Karthik, B. Aparajith, B. Indrajith, Sunil Sam, Aushik Srinivas, Aswin Crist, Umashankar Sushil, M. Mohammed, R. Prasanna, Malolan Rangarajan and Vijay Bhaskar.

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