Ranji Trophy: Important that we turn up & play well, says Baba Indrajith ahead of TN v Saurashtra quarterfinal

Coimbatore, Feb 22 – After topping the Elite Group C table in the league stage of the 2023/24 Ranji Trophy, two-time winners Tamil Nadu are in the knockouts for the first time since the 2016/17 season. With four wins from seven matches, Tamil Nadu will be eager to continue their fine run when they face defending champions Saurashtra in the quarterfinals at the Sri Ramakrishna College of Arts and Science Ground in Coimbatore on Friday.

Baba Indrajith, an integral part of Tamil Nadu’s outstanding performance so far, believes the hosts must play at their best to defeat a challenging Saurashtra side.

“Yes obviously Saurashtra, the defending champions are a very strong team and have played some good cricket over the years. It is going to be a very good challenge. Games like these are always challenging and I personally enjoy those games.”

“A good thing is that we did beat them during the last season and that confidence will always be there but being a knockout game, it can go either way so it is important that we turn up well and play well throughout the game,” said Indrajith in an exclusive interview with IANS, facilitated by WhiteLeaf Talent Management.

Tamil Nadu had just one point after the first two rounds, with many not giving them a chance to qualify for the knockouts. Following four victories in their next five matches, they sneaked into the knockouts, making a firm statement about their desire to win their first Ranji Trophy title since the 1987/88 season.

“I feel really happy that we have qualified after so many years in the Ranji Trophy. It is an elite and prestigious tournament. A team like Tamil Nadu not qualifying for that long, it was a bit disappointing for us, but I’m very, very happy that we have qualified into the knockouts after seven long years,” added Indrajith.

Tamil Nadu have exhibited a relentless attitude and played an aggressive form of cricket this season. Indrajith believes the side is finally living up to its potential in red-ball cricket, leading to a strong performance in the ongoing campaign.

“I think obviously… everybody keeps talking about Ranji Trophy. We all know that we’ve not played to our potential when it comes to red-ball cricket and that was the driving force for us. Starting the first match of the season with a loss and getting to the knockouts is a great thing.”

“I think everybody has stepped up in every game and we’ve had different match-winners in each of the games. We are all pushing each other, amongst us and also Sai Kishore has led the team really well and he has kept the team in good spirits.”

“It is a motivation for us because we know that not just us but the entire cricket fraternity and the whole of Tamil Nadu is backing us and supporting us so we are pushing and will give our best.”

Indrajith’s Ranji Trophy season numbers make for a scintillating read: 606 runs in seven matches at an average of 75.75, including two centuries and as many fifties. He enters the quarterfinals on the back of a fine 98 against Karnataka at Chennai, followed by a majestic 187 against Punjab at Salem.

“I’m grateful that things are going well for me. One thing I was very particular about is I wanted to keep things simple and whenever I get my eye in, if I cross 20-25 runs, I made sure that okay I want to make it big because as a batter you know there have been tough times for you.”

“You have not been part of certain teams, you have not got your break or you have not performed at certain moments, so whenever there’s an opportunity and you’re set, I made sure that I make it count,” says Indrajith about his good run with the bat.

Since the start of 2017, Indrajith’s average in 42 first-class games stands at a high of 63.60, which is the highest among all batters in the world who have played at least 40 matches. Indrajith’s unwavering goal of obtaining a Test cap has driven him to continually produce runs and make the most of every opportunity.

“I mean when you are so passionate about sport and your goal of getting the Test cap, you always stay motivated. But in that path there will be failures, dejections and everything but as I said when that passion for that Test cap and the game is there, you are always motivated and you will always want to go to the next level and do something big. So that has been pushing me and I will keep doing that, take whatever comes my way.”

Tamil Nadu’s thrilling draw against Karnataka at Chepauk will also be remembered for the deafening roar of the crowd, particularly during Indrajith and Vijay Shankar’s remarkable 125-run partnership for the sixth wicket as they came tantalizingly close to chasing down 355.

Hoping for a big turnout, Indrajith signed off by urging fans to come in large numbers for the quarterfinal clash at Coimbatore. “Yes absolutely, it is an amazing feeling to play in front of the home crowd. At Chepauk you might have seen the videos and when I was playing in the middle, it was altogether a different kind of a feeling and these are the moments that as a cricketer you feel ecstatic.”

“Obviously when it comes to Coimbatore, it is a home game for us and that too is a quarterfinal against Saurashtra, the fans have always stood behind us and cheered for us even during tough times, and I would request them to keep doing the same thing. One thing I can assure the fans is that no matter what, we will be giving our more than 100% every day.”


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