The Dinesh Karthik-led side reclaimed the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 Trophy after a gap of 14 years on Sunday. To have remained unbeaten in the tournament despite missing key players — such as R Ashwin, M Vijay, T Natarajan, Washington Sundar, C Varun and K Vignesh — speaks a lot about the bench strength the side possesses.
7⃣-wicket victory 👌8⃣ wins in a row 👏M Siddharth starred with the ball as Tamil Nadu beat Baroda in the @Paytm… https://t.co/pp8GsV75K4
— BCCI Domestic (@BCCIdomestic) 1612119182000
Having lost in the final of the previous edition by 1 run to Karnataka, TN — this season — didn’t want to end up as the bridesmaid again. “The narrow loss to a star-studded Karnataka really hurt us in 2019. Much like last year, we wanted to play a good brand of cricket and remain consistent. Everyone in this side contributed at various stages of the tournament and that’s a sign of a good team,” Karthik told TOI on Monday.
Coach D Vasu felt that players were on their toes through the course of the tournament. “Every player in the side knew that if he didn’t perform someone else was there to take his place. So, no one takes his place for granted and it makes the side more competitive,” Vasu pointed out.
The decision to leave left-arm spinner M Siddharth for the major portion of the tournament, according to Karthik, was a difficult one to make. “Siddharth is a gun cricketer who works hard on his game and knows his strengths. It was a difficult choice not to pick him in the playing XI due to our team combination till the final especially since he did so well for us last year. Once we knew that the wicket for the final would aid turn — we played him and he made a big impact,” said Karthik.
While a lot of talk has centered around the in-form N Jagadeesan and C Hari Nishaanth at the top of the batting-order, the tournament saw the emergence of B Aparajith as an allrounder. Karthik employed Aparajith’s part-time off-spin to put brakes on the opposition’s scoring in Powerplay overs. Aparajith may have got only 6 wickets from 7 games but the standout feature was his impressive economy-rate of 5.93. “Aparajith has a lot to offer for us in all formats of the game. He is someone who has a balanced head, understands the game and reacts to situations well,” Karthik said.
A tournament win notwithstanding, Vasu is already looking forward to the next one. “Winning the Ranji Trophy is the ultimate aim for our team. But, at the moment, we will look to take confidence from the Mushtaq Ali T20 win and aim for a strong show in the Vijay Hazare Trophy,” Vasu said.