TN start as overwhelming favourites vs Maharashtra

Chennai: It will be a `Battle of Unequals` when heavyweights Tamil Nadu take on a young Maharashtra side in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal at the Chepauk on Monday.

Tamil Nadu, who won the championship back in 1986-87 and has been runners-up twice have a solid batting line-up that boasts of players like Abhinav Mukund, Murali Vijay, Dinesh Karthik, all of whom have plied their trade at the international level.

Also the inclusion of S Badrinath, back from lay-off, who scored a century against Gujarat has strengthened the top-order big time.

The city, under the grip of cyclone "Thane" for two days. The conditions were overcast and there was light drizzle today.

Like Tamil Nadu topped the Elite Group B, Maharashtra too headed their particular group in Plate division with three wins in five outings.

Maharashtra`s left arm spinner Akshya Darekar has been their main strike bowler in the league phase and was responsible for their win over Hyderabad, who were dismissed for 124 and 54 in a league tie. Darekar finished the match with 13 wickets and has 32 wickets in six matches.

With the Chepauk strip known for its assistance to spinners, particularly as the match wore on, Darekar will hold the key for Maharashtra`s success.

In batting, 19-year-old Ankit Bawne has been Maharashtra`s most dependable batsman. In the Plate division matches this season, Bawne had scored two centuries.

Therefore, Maharashtra, finalist in Ranji trophy in 1992-93, would pin hope on both Darekar and Bawne for their success.

As for Tamil Nadu, opener Abhinav Mukund has already scored 709 runs from six matches with two centuries in this season followed by Karthik (440) and K Shrivasudevadas (237).

The seam attack also bears a settled look with Vijaykumar YoMahesh (19) topping the charts. Skipper Lakshmipathy Balaji, newcomer Jagannathan Kaushik and left-arm spinner Raju Aushik Srinivas also have 15 wickets in their kitty.


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