Dindigul, July 20: Karaikudi Kaalai will look to go beyond their fourth-place finishes over the last two seasons when they troop out in the 4th Tamil Nadu Twenty20 Premier League (TNPL) on Saturday (July 20).
Karaikudi opens their campaign against Trichy Warriors. They have every reason to be upbeat about this encounter as they have never lost to them in the past, winning all three matches they have played so far.
Captain Anirudha Srikkanth believes the team is in the right frame of mind for the season. "We got a little more time to prepare than the previous year and we are now looking forward to the season," he said.
The middle-order batting was a concern last season as they failed to capitalise on good starts. Both the captain and coach PC Prakash are confident of a better show this time around.
"We had trouble last year with our middle order, which is a key area for us. Hopefully, we'll get that thing right and our batsmen are looking good for that position," Anirudha, 32, said.
"We have to try to utilise the starts that we have been getting over the last two years and that's something we have really worked upon," said Prakash, a former Tamil Nadu middle-order batsman.
Karaikudi will be missing their star player Dinesh Karthik in the first few matches but he is expected to join the squad later. The absence of Karthik is not much of a worry for Prakash, who insists the team is well-equipped.
"Dinesh Karthik's presence is a big plus for us, but I'm not sure if he'll be available at the start of the tournament. We're well prepared to deal with his absence. We have been practicing without him so I think it's not going to make much difference to the team at this moment. Having said that, whenever he joins it will be a big plus," he said.
Ruby Trichy Warriors, on the other hand, are banking on India opener Murali Vijay and a clutch of new signings, including their captain Sai Kishore, for an improved display this season. Sai Kishore, who was with Tuti Patriots the previous year, is confident of a better show than the low finishes of the team in the past three seasons - their best was 6th place last year following 7th place finishes in the earlier two seasons.
"I am a new player in the team which in itself is exciting for me," exclaimed Sai Kishore. "Players who were picked in the draft are really good. We got good picks like K Mukunth (batsman), Aditya Barooah (opener), R Sathyanarayan (all-rounder), Adithya Ganesh (wicketkeeper-batsman). I feel other teams missed out on them. They are very good players who can contribute to the team. We played two practice games and we played well as a team," said the Tamil Nadu left-arm spinner.
Match timing: 3:15 P.M. onwards
Live on: Star Sports 3, Star Sports (Tamil), Vijay Super
Head to Head: Trichy Warriors 0, Karaikudi Kaalai 3
Trichy Warriors: Sanjay MS, Maruti Raghav, Murali Vijay, Ganapati Chandrasekar, Keshav Krishna, Aravind S, Vignesh L, Chandrasekar DT, Mani Bharathy, Saravana Kumar P, Thillak RS, Indrajith Baba, Vignesh K
Karaikudi Kaalai: Dinesh Karthik, Anirudha Srikkanth (captain), Yo Mahesh V, Kavin R, Surya Prakash L, Lakshman V, Aaditya V, Kishan Kumar S, Maan K Bafna, Ashwath Mukunthan, Swaminathan S, Ganesh S, Srinivasan R, Rajkumar R, Mohan Prasath S, Shajahan M.