Tamil Nadu look to complete job

Tamil Nadu would attempt to add to their rich history when they take on a spirited Bengal in the final of the Vijay Hazare Trophy at the Feroz Shah Kotla stadium on Monday. Tamil Nadu have put up a galvanized show in the tournament where they topped their group, that included teams like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi, before scripting dominating victories over Gujarat and Baroda to reach the final.

In the absence of their regular captain Abhinav Mukund and Murali Vijay, the team has put up a strong performance under Vijay Shankar and new coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar. Seasoned Dinesh Karthik is in fine form and with 495 runs from eight matches, heads the list of run scorers in the tournament.

Apart from steady batsman in Shankar, Kaushik Gandhi and Ganga Sridhar Raju have also done well to strengthen the Tamil Nadu batting. The bowling, too, has risen to the occasion despite the absence of K Vigesh and T Natarajan. Their strike bowler Aswin Crist, who with 19 wickets leads the tally in the tournament, and M Mohammed have performed well with the new ball.

The two have been ably supported by their spinners, especially Washington Sundar and Rahil Shah, and the part-timers to create a balance in the attack. The fielding of Tamil Nadu, too, has been impressive and there were some excellent efforts in the outfield during their semifinal encounter.

The youthful exuberance of Bengal, however, sets them apart. The side, led by Manoj Tiwary, has fought with a lot of heart to reach the final.  They have scored two thrilling victories in their high scoring quarterfinal and semifinal matches against Maharashtra and Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Jharkhand.

The batting of Bengal, despite missing Wriddhiman Saha, has kept them in good stead. Both the openers Shreevats Goswami and Abhimnayu Easwaran, the second in the list of run scorers with 471, scored centuries against Jharkhand. Then there is Sudeep Chatterjee who played his part in the chase against Maharashtra. And not to forget Tiwary who can step it up when required.

Bengal bowling is in the hands of former India players like seamer Ashok Dinda and left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, with offie Aamir Gani, too, giving good account of himself. Tamil Nadu with their four Vijay Hazare titles –– the most any team has won since the change of format in 2002-03 –– begin as favourites.  A confident Bengal will only be happy to prove the statistics wrong.

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