So here we go. After a gap of almost 19 years, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka play the Ranji finals. I vaguely remember the previous game in 1996, following the game at my grandma’s home, listening to the scores on the radio, and lamenting at our performance, hoping for a miracle but my grandma ( I called her Ambvo) always offered words of encouragement and hope, but the thrashing we got is embedded in my consciousness. Just as India got regularly thrashed by Pakistan in the 1990’s, Tamil Nadu was routinely thrashed by Karnataka back then. They were an incredibly strong team even minus the test stars of Kumble, Srinath, Dravid et al. With batsmen like J Arunkumar ( how my friend from Bangalore used to rave about him) Sujith Somasunder and Vijay Bharadhwaj and bowlers like David Johnson and Dodda Ganesh, they were quite the team to beat in the second half of the 1990’s. The best kind of love is the kind a 12 year old has towards his/her favorite team in his/her favorite sport, all the rest, i.e romantic love etc etc, is hocus pocus. I was kind of hoping that Tamil Nadu would get by with a first innings lead (even in my dreamy childhood fantasies, it was clear that we couldn’t win outright). Karnataka batted first. J Arunkumar, Sujith Somasunder and Vijay Bharadwaj pummeled our bowlers into submission and at 220 for 2, in walks Mr Rahul Dravid. There ended all hope. Karnataka posted 650 odd before their all India bowling combination of Messrs. Srinath, Prasad, Kumble and Joshi cleaned out our batters for 350 odd.
This time too, Karnataka are incredibly strong: great batting: KL Rahul, RV Uthappa, Karun Nair et al and a brilliant medium pace attack of Vinay Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun and Sreenath Aravind complemented by leggie Shreyas Gopal, it looks like they should win this in a canter. I do look forward to some good batting performances by Murali Vijay, Vijay Shankar (who had a great first season) and maybe R Prasanna (who, in the past, has pulled us out of a position of no hope against Mumbai of all teams). Also, it would be nice if they play one or both of the left arm spinners: Rahil Shah and Aushik Srinivas :). Of course, who can forget Dinesh Karthik and L Balaji, and even captain Abhinav Mukund who have been like rocks for this team. Looking forward to a great game of cricket. Hopefully the Wankhede ( they are playing this at a neutral venue which is surprising) will provide plenty of bounce and turn. Of course, there is a tinge of sadness in the fact that Badrinath no longer plays for us and also at the ease with which the Baba brothers slot in because of powerful connections. I hope the best team wins (no, of course I am kidding, my heart tells me Tamil Nadu might sneak in this time, although my mind tells me that this is probably hoping for too much) 🙂