TN’s victories in the first phase of the competition have arrived on the back of strong starts provided by N Jagadeesan and C Hari Nishaanth. While Jagadeesan is the tournament’s leading run-getter with 315 runs from 5 starts, Nishaanth has scored 190 in 5 innings. To top that, TN’s bowlers have been spot on with their line and lengths.
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Leg-spinner M Ashwin (9 wickets from 5 matches at an economy of 6.44) has been skipper Dinesh Karthik’s go-to man when it comes to getting breakthroughs. Medium-pacer Sandeep Warrier and left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore — with 5 wickets each from as many games — have kept the batsmen under check.
Despite the unbeaten run in the competition, the TN middle-order has remained largely untested. Vasu is hopeful that the middle-order will rise to the occasion if the openers fail to fire.
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“Our openers have done a splendid job so far, and that has meant that our middle-order hasn’t got too many opportunities. Whenever given an opportunity, the likes of Karthik have come to the fore. I am sure other batsmen will deliver when the need arises,” Vasu said on the eve of the match.
Himachal, on the other hand, are making the knockouts 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 side’s leading contributor — with 105 runs and 9 wickets in the league phase. Apart from Dhawan, medium-pacer Pankaj Jaswal is the only other notable contributor with 9 scalps.
TN may appear stronger on paper but coach D Vasu doesn’t want his side to take Himachal lightly. “We can’t afford to get complacent against any side. It’s a T20 game and anything can happen. We will put in our best playing XI and look for a win,” Vasu said.