TN’s victories in the first phase of the competition came thanks to strong starts provided by N Jagadeesan and C Hari Nishaanth. While Jagadeesan is the tournament’s best run-getter with 315 runs in 5 starts, Nishaanth has scored 190 in 5 innings. To top it off, the TN bowlers were perfect with their line and lengths.
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Skater M Ashwin (9 wickets in 5 games for a saving of 6.44) was the man of choice for skipper Dinesh Karthik to achieve breakthroughs. Medium-paced Sandeep Warrier and R Sai Kishore – with 5 wickets each for as many games – kept the batsmen in check.
Despite the undefeated run in the competition, the TN intermediate order remained largely untested. Vasu is optimistic that the middle order will rise to the occasion if the forerunners fail to shoot.
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“Our forerunners have done a great job so far, and that means our middle order doesn’t have too many opportunities. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, personalities like Karthik have prevailed. I’m sure other batsmen will deliver when the need arises, ”Vasu said on the eve of the game.
Himachal, on the other hand, knocked out for the first time since the 2009-10 edition of the tournament. They have a largely inexperienced unit led by Rishi Dhawan.
The skipper has been the main contributor to the team – with 105 races and 9 wickets in the championship phase. Apart from Dhawan, Pankaj Jaswal is the only other notable contributor with 9 scalps.
TN may look stronger on paper, but coach D Vasu doesn’t want his team to take Himachal lightly. “We cannot afford to be complacent against either side. It’s a T20 game and anything can happen. We’re going to play our best XI and look for a win, ”said Vasu.