Mumbai: Tamil Nadu coach Woorkeri V Raman does not view either defending champions Karnataka or his team as favourites when they cross swords in the five-day Ranji Trophy final commencing at the Wankhede Stadium on March 8.
"There's no such thing as an underdog or a favourite. It will be a battle of confidence (of Karnataka) against a side which is willing to fight (TN)," the former India opener told reporters after a four-hour training session by his team at the venue.
While Karnataka have won the title last year, their seventh title since their maiden one in 1973-74, TN had last won the trophy for only the second time in the tournament's history way back in 1987-88 when Raman was a playing member.
"Two good sides are playing and you will expect a competitive game," he said while dismissing notions that the holders had an edge after having beaten his team in the league phase comprehensively at Bengaluru.
"That was three months ago and since then lot of things have happened in terms of both sides progressing. We are looking ahead and not back," said the former left handed all rounder.
According to the 49-year-old coach, the side which seized crucial moments in the game would have an edge.
"As I see it the team which is able to identify key moments of the game and try and do what's supposed to be done will have the last laugh.
He remarked that Karnataka had not won games on a canter in the later part of the league phase and had to fight hard at times."
"Karnataka have not been on a canter (later on). Mumbai had the better of them (at the Wankhede in league phase) and then they had to fight hard and there was no walk in the park. This also means they know how to handle such situations."
"They are a good side. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose. We have come through lot of difficult phases and the team evolved as the tournament went on," he added.
Recalling his team's up and down journey to the summit clash, Raman credited his players for learning to play well under pressure.
"After the first half we were precariously placed. We had to either go for glory or perish. We had to take that call. We got to play to win and not to play safe. I took the call and boys responded.
"The idea was to put some pressure (on these youngsters) to produce results and they learnt. We had to play only on turners (in Dindigul against Jammu and Kashmir). It was a relaid square the wicket had not settled down, not hard enough.
"More than the Dindigul game, the games against UP and Mumbai were important as both these teams were good enough to qualify for the knock out and it was a shoot out. We had to take that calculated risk and we won those games and it was the turning point and gave the boys the belief that they can do well."
"We then played away on tracks which aided medium pacers and could not play more spinners," he explained about the non-inclusion of spinners Rahil Shah and Aushik Srinivas.
He said the team happened to pick up momentum when appointed-skipper R Prasanna got injured.
"The team picked up momentum at that time and the captain picked up an injury and we were forced to make a change (by making Abhinav Mukund as the leader) and then thought there was no point in making a change again (after two wins under the new captain)", he said.
Young players Inderjit Baba and Vijay Shankar also came in for some praise from the TN coach.
"That's one of the reasons we are where we are. Both these boys have put their hands up under pressue and delivered some good performances. It's good to see youngsters fighting against odds and coming out on top."
According to Raman, the knock out phase games merited immediate action to rectify mistakes.
"Things can go any which way. You try and hang in, try and rectify mistakes immediately. It happened in Eden Gardens (in the semi final against Maharashtra). It (performance) was a bit up and down and on the final morning we had to bowl tight and we did."