TN has a tough battle ahead as Punjab arrive

Published: Sunday, December 12, 2004, 23:33 [IST]
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Chennai:Former champions Punjab, having made to the semifinals with two more matches to go, would aim to improve their status in National Ranji Trophy when they play against Tamil Nadu in the four-day fifth round Elite-B match starting here tomorrow.

With 16 points, Punjab is leading the points table in the national Ranji trophy for four rounds and would be playing Hyderabad in their last match.

Tamil Nadu, last year finalists, would have to deny a win for Punjab and garner maximum points from their matches against Baroda and Maharashtra to progress to the knockout stage. Tamil Nadu has now nine points from three matches.

However, Tamil Nadu, led by Sridharan Sriram, look a slightly depleted side with both S Suresh and Hemang K Badani not being available for the match on 'fitness problems'.

Of the three matches this season, Suresh had captained the side against Hyderabad and Uttar Pradesh and Badani led the team in the last match against Assam. Tamil Nadu collected four points from its drawn matches against U.P and Assam.

Punjab, playing their fifth match in the championship, led by Dinesh Mongia remains the lone team that earned points from all their four matches with solid wins over Maharashtra, Assam and Baroda and drew against Uttar Pradesh.

The visitors will count on continued performance by its top order -- Ravneet Ricky, R.S.Sodhi, Yuvraj Singh, Mongia, and Pankaj Dharmani-- and bank on its bowlers -- Amit Uniyal, Sodhi, Rajesh Sharma and Munish Sharma to contain the hosts.

Having been denied of wins over U.P. and Assam, the host has a strong bowling line but the same thing cannot be said of its batting strength.

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