Murali Kartik’s motivation to go on is exemplary. Thirteen years ago he made a non-descript first-class debut at this very venue. On Tuesday, he will lead Railways against Tamil Nadu in the Ranji Trophy super league match.

“The motivation to play for India is what keeps me going,” says the affable left-arm spinner, who has been saddled with the task of guiding Railways through a difficult transition period.

The presence of Yere Goud, Sanjay Bangar and Kulamani Parida should be a comforting thought for the 33-year-old Kartik.

They have been together in this journey since Kartik’s debut season.

Tamil Nadu has a rich array to choose from. Dinesh Karthik, M. Vijay, S. Badrinath, L. Balaji are known names but the likes of Abhinav Mukund and R. Ashwin are the ones to keep an eye on.

Mukund, Karthik, Ashwin and K. B. Arun Karthik had slammed the Railways attack with a century each the last time they met less than a year ago in Chennai. But Tamil Nadu would do well to remember that Railways is a tough side to contain on home ground.

“We have prepared well this time even though we have lost Karan (Sharma) for this match,” said Railways coach Abhay Sharma. Karan’s batting and leg-spin would have helped the home team but the all-rounder is down with viral fever.

“The pitch looks the same old Karnail Stadium surface,” said Tamil Nadu coach W.V. Raman. “It is likely to be low and slow,” noted Abhay Sharma.

The onus clearly would be on the batsmen in this four-day season opener for two teams keen to make a mark.

The teams (from): Tamil Nadu: Dinesh Karthik (captain), M. Vijay (vice-captain), Abhinav Mukund, K.B. Arun Karthik, S. Badrinath, S. Suresh Kumar, R. Ashwin, C. Ganapathy, L. Balaji, R. Suthesh, R. Aushik Srinivas, S. Anirudha, V. Yomahesh, U. Sushil, M. Kaushik Gandhi and R. Jesuraj.

Railways: Murali Kartik (captain), Yere Goud, Sanjay Bangar, V. Cheluvaraj, M. Suresh, T.P. Singh, Mahesh Rawat, Shailendra Gehlot, K. Parida, Deepak Yadav, Sanjib Sanyal, Faiz Fazal, Harshad Rawle, Karan Sharma and Krishnakant Upadhyaya.

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