The surface for the Tamil Nadu-Saurashtra Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy face-off, beginning at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Thursday, has a fair share of grass. In fact, the wicket appears similar to the one used for the South-Central Duleep Trophy semifinals here last month.
In that tussle, the Central batsmen caved in against the South pacemen on a lively day one track. Building on that advantage, South romped home by an innings and 38 runs.
The pitch could ease out subsequently before the spinners come into the play from the post-tea session on day three.
Saurashtra will be bolstered by the inclusion of left-arm paceman Jaydev Unadkat — part of the Indian squad for the ODI series against the West Indies.
The Tamil Nadu attack, which will have to reckon with the prolific Cheteshwar Pujara, has been hit by an injury. Promising paceman Sunil Sam, as skipper L. Balaji revealed, will miss the game due to a side strain.
The host has seven points from three matches — all away duels — and requires an outright win to gain momentum. Saurashtra has 12 from four.
Some of the big names in the line-up, Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund and Dinesh Karthik, have yet to fire though.
The batting, so far, has been too dependent on the experienced S. Badrinath, the talented B. Aparajith and the unsung but valuable R. Prasanna.
The team-management needs to decide between a five-man attack, inclusive of two specialist spinners, or go in with three pacemen and a lone spinner.
In the second scenario, Vijay Shankar who backs his bustling batting with handy seam bowling, will vie for a place with the strokeful B. Indrajith.
Much of Saurashtra’s batting would revolve around Pujara but Arpit Vasavada and Sheldon Jackson could don vital supporting roles.
The teams (from): Tamil Nadu: L. Balaji (captain), S. Badrinath (vice-captain), A. Mukund, M. Vijay, B. Aparajith, D. Karthik, R. Prasanna, Vijay Shankar, J. Kaushik, A. Christ, A. Srinnivas, M. Rangarajan, B. Indrajith, M. Mohammed, K. B. Arun Karthick. Coach: W.V. Raman.
Saurashtra: J. Shah (captain), C. Pujara (vice-captain), S. Jogyani, B. Chauhan, S. Jackson, A. Vasavada, K. Makwana, J. Unadkat, S. Maniar, D. Jadeja, A. Bhatt, C. Jani, C. Pathak, N. Doshi, S. Sanadiya. Coach: Debu Mitra.
Play starts at 9.30 a.m.