CHENNAI: Last year's finalists Tamil Nadu will have a tough task at hand when they lock horns with Maharashtra in search of an outright win in their Ranji Trophy Group-B league match starting from Saturday.
Tamil Nadu started off their Ranji campaign on a patchy note as they have collected just two points from two matches though rain had denied them against Odisha. They would be looking for an outright win against Maharashtra.
The home side's batting line-up has been strengthened with the return of opener Murali Vijay who has been released from the Indian squad for the ongoing first Test against England.
Promising youngster Baba Aprajith has been in great form and he, along with Murali Vijay, Arun Karthik, Abhinav Mukund, S Badrinath and few others, could turn the strategies of Maharashtra bowlers upside down.
The home side has the balance as their bowling department is still strong despite the absence of Ravichandran Ashwin, who is on national duty in Ahmedabad. Their bowling attack will be led by Lakshmipathy Balaji, to be assisted by Vijaykumar Yo Mahesh, Jagannathan Kaushik and left-arm spinner Raju Aushik Srinivas.
Maharashtra have collected just a point on the basis of first innings lead against Uttar Pradesh but the manner in which their top-order batted against the solid bowling attack of their rivals cannot be under estimated.
Kedar Jadhav, promoted to open the innings, amassed 327 runs and their captain Rohit Motwani capped with a superb 147. Besides the solid start by the openers, Sangram Atikar (80), Ankit Bawne (78) and Harshad Khadiwale (68) had batted well.
Left-arm spinner Akshya Darekar has been Maharashtra's main strike bowler and with the Chepauk strip known for its assistance to spinners, Darekar will hold the key for Maharashtra's success.
The two team's would be hoping that weather Gods do not disrupt the match as rain has been predicted during the four-day game.