Pace duo gets TN up and running
CHENNAI: Racking up wins on the field can be one hell of a salve, especially when things off it aren’t exactly going your way. Voices over the recent controversies and changes surrounding Tamil Nadu cricket haven’t really gone silent, but the team cut through that clutter all three times they hit the grounds in Jaipur during this Vijay Hazare Trophy. Three solid victories. A strong grip on the top spot of Group C. And not to mention a healthy net run rate (1.61), if push does come to shove towards the business end of the league stage.
One department that needs to be credited for this purple patch is the pace battery; the duo of Krishnamoorthy Vignesh and M Mohammed in particular. Batsmen have been mostly pulling their weight; seven fifties is a decent haul in three games. But 17 wickets — the combined haul of the two right-arm pacers so far — at a combined average and strike rate of 13.41 and 17 does take the cake. And all this at less than run-a-ball.
“All three of us (including Thangarasu Natarajan) have found rhythm quickly,” said Mohammed. “We’re looking at keeping our line tight, only on the stumps. That has helped us cut down on runs, put pressure on batsmen, and bring leg-before and caught behind into the equation. Most of our wickets have come like that. Nattu and Vignesh are better with the new ball, and my approach suits it when it’s a little older.”
These numbers make for an excellent read for everyone in Tamil Nadu who love their domestic cricket. But these statistics don’t really convey how Vignesh and Mohammed have been making lives of their batting mates a lot easier.
The two have a tag-team of sorts going at the moment. While Vignesh has primarily been skittling out batsmen within the first powerplay (three in two matches), Mohammed has been making hay at the death (four in two). This one-two combo was on full display in both matches (Bihar were restricted to 217/7, and Rajasthan to 261/9) when the spin of the coin put the onus on the bowlers to let the batsmen breathe easy.
“I and Nattu generally bowl half of our overs in that period (death),” observed Mohammed. “I try to mix up my lengths each over; slower bouncers, back-of-the-hand deliveries. The former has got me wickets in the slog overs. Plus, (Dinesh) Karthik anna gets Jaggi (N Jagadeesan) to keep in the last 10, and positions himself close to us in the circle to give us inputs.”