Kolkata, Feb 24: Boasting of a strong batting line-up, Tamil Nadu will have the edge when they face last edition's runners-up Maharashtra in the second semifinal of the Ranji Trophy cricket tournament here tomorrow. (Preview: Ranji Trophy SF 1: Karnataka vs Mumbai)
With the likes of India Test opener Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund, Dinesh Karthik, Vijay Shankar and twins Aparajith and Indrajith in their top six, Tamil Nadu would look to revel in the batting-friendly conditions of the Eden Gardens.
Tamil Nadu played their last semifinal in 2011-12 when they lost in the final to Rajasthan while their only title came in 1987-88. In WV Raman, the former Bengal coach and a batting coach of Kolkata Knight Riders, Tamil Nadu have somebody who is well aware of the conditions.
Eventually the contest may well boil down to the mighty Tamil Nadu batting versus the spirited Maharashtra bowling which will be spearheaded by left-arm seamer Samad Fallah along with the likes of Anupam Sanklecha and Shrikanth Mundhe.
Unlike Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra do not boast of any big names but they are known for their never say die attitude. Not many teams can win after being skittled out of 91 in their first innings but Maharashtra did that against Andhra.
Stressing on the momentum, Maharashtra's Aussie coach David Andrews said, "The boys showed a lot of character (against Andhra Pradesh). We hope to carry forward the winning run."
The surface sports some even grass but as the summer has already set in, it would be a task for the bowlers. Well aware of what is in store for him, the Maharashtra pace spearhead Fallah said, "At the end of the day, we have to bowl in the right areas and if we do that there's no reason why can't we do this again."
The left-arm seamer has 37 wickets from nine matches, followed by Sanklecha with 29 wickets that includes his match haul of eight in the Lahli greentop. The onus hence will be on Maharashtra batters as the likes of Harshad Khadiwale and Chirag Khurana, their two leading run-getters, will play a key role.