TNCA get Balaji boost for knockout stage

Cricket: KSCA all-India invitation tourney

Lakshmipathi Balaji

Defending champions Tamil Nadu Cricket Association have been bolstered by the arrival of paceman Lakshmipathi Balaji for the knockout stages of the KSCA all-India invitation tournament.

Tamil Nadu are to take on KSCA President’s XI in the two-day quarterfinals beginning at the IAF grounds on Sunday. Balaji, who made a return to the Indian Test squad after nearly four years during the tour of New Zealand earlier this year, had suffered an injury to his left hand whilst going for a return catch in a league tie in Chennai recently, and thus missed his team’s opening league matches. The 27-year-old landed in the City late on Saturday evening.

Even without their pace spearhead, Tamil Nadu had provided glimpses of their depth, particularly during their remarkable win over Orissa Cricket Association on Friday. Overnight 106 for four and needing 181, Orissa were shot out for just 124 by a pace-oriented attack comprising R Jesuraj, C Ganapathy, J Kaushik and part-timer R Prasanna.

At least one Karnataka team is assured of a berth in the semifinal, what with the last-eight clash at the Chinnaswamy stadium pitting Sunil Joshi’s KSCA XI against the KSCA Colts, skippered by Sudhindra Shinde. The Colts have been the most impressive of the three host teams, all but chasing down 368 against DY Patil Sports Academy from Mumbai and eventually falling just four runs short. Joshi’s men, yet to fire on all cylinders, will take their junior counterparts lightly only at their own peril.

Last year’s beaten finalists, Air India Sports Club, will run into Railways Sports Promotion Board at the RWF grounds, while at the NRA grounds, DY Patil Academy will lock horns with Kerala Cricket Association in the 100-overs-a-side matches to decide the four semifinalists.

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