TNPL: Balu Surya could end Tamil Nadu’s search for off-spinner

It’s the great Tamil Nadu search. The quest for a potent off-spinner.

With Ravichandran Ashwin and Washington Sundar, either on international duty or injured, the State side has struggled without an off-spinner.

Now there is a ray of hope. The sunshine is on the 25-year-old off-spinner Balu Surya, who has had an outstanding TNPL this season with 10 scalps in seven games at a stunning economy rate of 5.76.

As Nellai Royal Kings’ powerful batting unit clashes with Lyca Kovai Kings’ varied attack in Qualifier 2 on Friday, much focus will be on Surya.

Surya spins his stock ball and has variations in flight and control. And he does send down a hard-to-pick carrom ball. This new kid on the block can sting.

His teammates lend him ample support. Ajith Ram, a quality left-arm spinner of high-arm action, flight, and deception, has been outstanding.

Skipper Shahrukh Khan’s off-spin – he has bowled without nerves at the death – has enabled him to contain and strike. Industrious seamer Abhishek Tanwar with 15 scalps at economy 7.07 has also been incisive for Lyca.

Lyca is not about bowling alone. The side has the explosive Shahrukh, the smooth stroking Sai Sudharsan, local boy J. Suresh Kumar, who has been in rousing form (372 runs at 62.00, 158.29 SR), and the hard-hitting Ganga Sridhar Raju.

The home team will be up against a side that has for the most part of the season been devastating with the bat.

Coached capably by the unsung M. Shanmugam, Nellai has landed heavyweight blows but seems to have gone off the boil somewhat during the climactic phase. Has the side peaked too early?

The left-handed R. Sanjay Yadav has been the marauder with the bat with 399 runs at 99.25 at a phenomenal strike rate of 183.79. His duel with off-spinner Surya could be of great significance.

Baba Aparajith too has been in fine form with 352 runs at 58.66 (146.05 SR).

Happily for NRK, its premier paceman Athisayaraj Davidson of the sling-arm action has recovered from cramps.

While seamer N.S. Harish has been effective and Yadav, left-arm orthodox, and Aparajith, off-spin, have chipped in, the NRK bowling lacks depth.

Since we are at the fag end of a tournament, the pitches will offer turn. If the dew isn’t a factor, batting first will be the better option.

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