Tamil Nadu sack Baba Indrajith as captain; Left-arm spinner Sai Kishore to take over

On a day when Tamil Nadu all but ended their hopes of making it to the quarterfinals of the Ranji Trophy, captain Baba Indrajith was relieved of his duties. In his place, left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore has been made captain while young left-handed batsman Pradosh Ranjan Paul will be his deputy for the remaining two league matches against Assam and Saurashtra.

Needing to win their fifth-round match against Maharashtra to keep their quarterfinals hopes alive, Tamil Nadu settled for a point in Pune as the hosts took home three points on the basis of first innings lead. And soon after the match, the selectors met in Chennai on Friday, where they decided to appoint Sai Kishore as the captain.

“Since we are already out of reckoning, we thought this is a good time to groom Sai with an eye on the future,” Vasudeven S, who is the chairman of the senior state selection committee told The Indian Express. This is not the first time Tamil Nadu have changed captains for failing to get past the group stages of Ranji Trophy.

Indrajith himself has experienced it before in the 2018/19 season. And in a season where Tamil Nadu took the field without their international stars — R Ashwin and Dinesh Karthik – they were definitely not considered among the favourites to win the title. However, within the squad, there was overall support for Indrajith’s captaincy as he constantly pressed for the game to move forward.

Despite bowling being the weak link, Tamil Nadu took 60 out of 60 wickets in the first three matches. And weather permitting, they may have ended up on the winning side against Hyderabad and Delhi. However, the subsequent matches against Mumbai and Maharashtra where Tamil Nadu lost out on first innings lead seems to have been the trigger point. It is understood that the selectors were overall not happy with the tactical aspects over a period of time and questions are also being raised over the decision not to send Washington Sundar up the order in the matches he played.

“Indrajith did well as a batter and there is no two ways about it. But we felt something was amiss with the captaincy because we lost out on the first innings lead. Since the qualification hopes are over, we thought of handing over the baton to a youngster with the future in mind,” Vasudevan said.

The decision to go with Sai Kishore means the left-arm spinner is being seen as the one for the long run. Ever since he made his debut in the 2017/18 season, the tall, lanky 26-year-old has established as their first choice spinner and even went on a tour to Sri Lanka as reserves with the Indian team. Although he hasn’t captained so far, Tamil Nadu want to see how he performs in these two games before taking a call about next season.

“We are looking to build a team for the future. We have not changed the squad because we felt we did considerably well in the batting. Bowling was the issue.. So we thought lets tweak a bit and see how it goes with the captain. There has to be a long term plan where in four-five years down the line, we will have a good team with youngsters in the mix with experience behind their belt,” Vasudevan added.

It is also understood that the TNCA will take a call on head coach R Venkataramana’s future at the end of the season. Although the team performed well in the white-ball tournaments, they have not won a game in the eight matches they have played since the beginning of the last season. There are talks to bring in a coach from the outside with a couple of names from Mumbai doing the rounds. But TNCA officials said the decision will be taken by the Cricket Advisory Committee.

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