Rajasthan look to extend Ranji dream run against Tamil Nadu
Jaipur: On a high after ousting 39-time champions Mumbai, giant-killers Rajasthan would now aim to stun Tamil Nadu and extend their fairytale run to the finals when the two sides clash in their Ranji Trophy semifinal starting here on Monday.
The hosts, who have surprised all by climbing up from the bottom of the Plate group to the semifinal stage, have gained in confidence after their fine performance against Mumbai in the quarterfinal here on the same ground.
They had never gone past Mumbai in the past and the last-eight win over the team fancied has given Rajasthan a shot in the arm.
With momentum on their side, Rajasthan are suddenly the favourites against a side which is clearly not in the best of forms.
The onus would once again be on Akash Chopra, Hrishikesh Kanitkar and Rashmiranjan Parida who have been in great form.
Former Indian opener Akash Chopra has a triple hundred under his belt apart from few other gutsy knocks.
Skipper Kanitkar also has a double hundred apart from a few other good knocks this season.
Rashmi Ranjan Parida has been among the runs as well though he missed a double ton earlier. Vineet Saxena was a revelation as he plundered 143 against a strong Mumbai attack.
The bowling of the hosts also seems to be penetrative with Pankaj Singh again at his best. He has shown his hunger to perform against top teams of the elite group.
The upcoming Deepak Chahar, who hogged the limelight after taking 8 for 10 to send Hyderabad packing for 21, has been improving with each outing.
On the other hand, Tamil Nadu as a team has been not living up to its glorious past but has good players in the likes of Sathish, Dinesh Kartik, S Badrinath and L Balaji who have propelled them to the semifinal.
Tamil Nadu would also miss spinner R Ashwin, who has taken 24 wickets this season, as he is on national duty in South Africa.
Both sides have met thrice earlier and have won a match each besides drawing one.