When Odisha went down by a mile to Chhattisgarh on Saturday, it meant Tamil Nadu’s last remaining hopes of qualification in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Twenty20 tournament were snuffled out.
But then, last season’s winner Tamil Nadu, by not leaving its destiny in its own hands, was embarking on a disastrous course.
The defeat at the hands of Chhattisgarh and Bengal hurt the side.
What went wrong for the Champion team? A lot did not go right actually.
Cricketers need to evolve since if they are dominant one season, they tend to be sorted out the next season.
Shahrukh Khan was Tamil Nadu’s biggest match-winner last season, swinging close games his team’s way.
This season he was a poor shadow of his former self with 45 runs in five innings at a measly average of 9 (SR 93. 75). The Finisher floundered.
Teams brought back spin once Shahrukh entered the crease and the buccaneering batsman was found wanting. Shahrukh needs to work on his footwork against spin.
And men like Sanjay Yadav, such a roaring success in TNPL, found life hard against better attacks. He made 39 runs in five innings at 9.75
Tamil Nadu was unable to close out games. The side needed nine runs off the last over with five wickets in hand against Chhattisgarh.
The side contrived to lose four wickets while scoring just two runs off the innings’ last six balls. Tamil Nadu pressed the panic button and the defeat proved costly.
Wicket taking options such as C.V. Varun needs to pick up more than 7 wickets in 6 innings. The mystery spinner has been largely sorted out and needs to reinvent himself.
The much-improved left-arm spinner Sai Kishore was the most consistent bowler with 8 wickets in 6 innings at an economy rate of 4.13.
Pacemen T. Natarajan and Sandeep Warrier just about managed to keep head above water while Washington Sundar bowled his off-spinners usefully and made some handy runs down the order.
Yet, it was bewildering why this talented left-hander was not sent opening. With his array of strokes, Washington can be a game changer as an opener.
Eventually, only Baba Aparajith (164 runs at 41) and N. Jagadeesan (118 runs at 29.50) managed to display some consistency.
Tamil Nadu badly missed an all-action pace bowling all-rounder such as the vibrant J. Kousik who could have made a difference in close games.