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Weather holds the key in TN-Karnataka tie

Special Correspondent

Chennai: Tamil Nadu takes on Karnataka in a crunch Elite `A' Ranji Trophy match at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium from Friday. The host has four points from two matches and the visitor two from an equal number of games.

The threat of rain still looms over the city. If the weather holds, an interesting game is on the cards.

The contest will be held on either the pitch that was used for the recent India-Sri Lanka Test or a much greener surface. The chances are that the wicket where the Test was played will be chosen.

That was a track where the ball kept low. However, curator K. Parthasarathy believes there could be more bounce on this pitch since the sunshine over the past two days would have made the surface harder. The weather would hold the key to how the wicket behaves.

There are cracks in the surface that could open up as the game progresses.

The spinners will eye the pitch with anticipation. A clever seamer too could achieve cut off the wicket, if he hits the right spots.

Naresh ruled out

Tamil Nadu suffered a blow when in-form left-arm paceman R. Naresh was ruled out because of an ankle injury.

The side is already without pace spearhead Lakshmipathy Balaji, still nursing a back strain. M.R. Shrinivas has replaced Naresh in the squad.

Despite the injury setback, coach B. Arun remains confident. "The spirit in the side is good. We secured the lead over Gujarat and had a good chance to win against Railways but J.P. Yadav played a fine knock."

Senior batsman S. Sharath and left-arm spinner R. Ramkumar, who should bowl in tandem with off-spinner Aashish Kapoor, will return to the side after fitness concerns kept them out of the last game.

S. Badrinath has been in bright form for Tamil Nadu with the willow, while paceman R. Jesuraj has struck telling blows with the ball.

Optimistic

Karnataka coach K. Jeswanth too exuded optimism. His side took the lead over Railways but an early batting collapse forced it to save the game against Mumbai at home.

"Even in that match, we showed a lot of fight," said Jeswanth.

Paceman Vinay Kumar has bowled well for Karnataka, while Sudhindra Shetty produced a key innings for the side against Railways.

Opener Barrington Rowland's form remains a worry for the team, though.

The teams (from):

Tamil Nadu: Hemang Badani (capt.), S. Sriram, Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan, Aniruddha Srikkanth, C. Hemant Kumar, K. Shree Vasudeva Das, S. Badrinath, S. Sharath, K. Dinesh Kaarthick, Aashish Kapoor, R. Ramkumar, R. Jesuraj, G. Vignesh, D. Tamil Kumaran and M.R. Shrinivas; Coach: B. Arun.

Karnataka: Sujit Somasundar (capt.), Barrington Rowland, Robin Uthappa, Bharat Chipley, Sudhindra Shinde, Stuart Binny, B. Akhil, Sunil Joshi, Thilak Naidu, D. Ganesh, C. Raghavendra, Vinay Kumar, Udit Patel, N.C. Aiyappa and C. Raghu; Coach: K. Jeswanth.

Umpires: Jasbir Singh (Mohali) and M.R. Singh (Mumbai); Match Referee: Sanjay Patil (Mumbai).

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