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TN on Sulu track

Updated on: 01 March,2024 07:12 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Subodh Mayure |

Former Mumbai coach Sulakshan Kulkarni all set to tackle Rahane & Co from Tamil Nadu dugout for Ranji Trophy semi-final at MCA-BKC

TN on Sulu track

Tamil Nadu coach Sulakshan Kulkarni during a practice session at MCA-BKC ground yesterday. Pic/Shadab Khan; (right) Ajinkya Rahane

Familiarity breeds contempt, they say. In this case, familiarity opens up a good opportunity to get one-up in style. Former Mumbai Ranji Trophy-winning coach Sulakshan Kulkarni (known as Sulu in Mumbai cricket circles) will be in the opposite camp as Tamil Nadu head coach for Saturday’s Ranji Trophy semi-final clash with Mumbai.

Kulkarni, 57, was busy charting strategies during TN’s practice session on Thursday.  He has also coached the other two semi-finalists—Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha.

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‘They have vast experience’

Kulkarni admitted that Ajinkya Rahane & Co have the upper hand in this crucial game. “Mumbai know very well how to win big games like semi-finals and finals. They have vast experience of winning the Ranji Trophy. Being 41-time champions, they have a legacy and with Test players like Ajinkya, Shreyas Iyer, Prithvi Shaw and Shardul Thakur, they have the advantage in the semi-final against us,” Kulkarni told mid-day after a practice session on Thursday. 

That said, TN have done well to get here. Sai Kishore’s team outclassed defending champions Saurashtra by an innings and 33 runs in the quarter-final at Coimbatore.

TN has momentum

“We have momentum going for us, have played good cricket. With due respect to our opponents, I reckon this will be a good contest, a close match. Playing against a quality team like Mumbai will be a motivating factor for our players,” Kulkarni remarked.  

TN will be boosted by the return of India‘s off-spinning all-rounder Washington Sundar, who was released from India’s Test squad. 

Two-time champions TN will be boosted by fit-again promising opener Sai Sudharsan. 

“TN are not that big a team yet and they need to prove themselves. Mumbai can never be taken lightly. In fact, Mumbai may take us TN lightly,” Kulkarni added.

‘Wankhede or CCI should’ve been hosts’

TN coach Sulakshan Kulkarni wished that the semi-final against Mumbai was played at the Wankhede Stadium instead of MCA-BKC.

“Such a big match should be played at a stadium that provides an opportunity for spectators to enjoy the semi-final. They should have had this match either at Wankhede Stadium or Cricket Club of India’s Brabourne Stadium. Many youngsters can get inspired watching the game at a stadium,” Kulkarni opined. It is believed that Wankhede is getting ready to host IPL games.

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