CHENNAI: Every time Tamil Nadu and Karnataka go up against each other, irrespective of the format, they always serve high-octane contests. Since 2010, they have given some memorable clashes, including knockouts. While Tamil Nadu has had commendable success in white-ball cricket, in Ranji Trophy, they have lost to Karnataka on the last three occasions. In fact, the last time they went up against each other, Tamil Nadu faced an agonising 26-run defeat during the 2019-20 season.
This time, however, Tamil Nadu are on a roll. They have had three consecutive victories and another win against Karnataka on their home turf — MA Chidambaram Stadium — will secure them a spot in the knockouts. They will be facing a rejuvenated Karnataka who beat Railways in a thriller, and have the services of captain Mayank Agarwal and Devdutt Padikkal.
Agarwal, who missed the previous match having had a health scare after consuming a transparent liquid on the plane from Agartala to New Delhi, is back and was preparing in full tilt on the eve of the match in Chennai. How he and his players take on a Tamil Nadu spin attack led by R Sai Kishore will likely decide their fortunes on the red soil surface. The other challenge for the visiting team, whose bowling attack is predominantly dominated by pacers, is to see how their spinners challenge Tamil Nadu batters.
Sai Kishore, meanwhile, is excited for the contest. He was part of the team that lost to Karnataka in 2019 and is eager to put on a show. “You play this sport to compete. When a good game comes along, it gives you more chances to compete. That is where all the joy and enjoyment is. If it becomes like that (competitive), there is no other joy in this game,” said the Tamil Nadu captain.