Chennai: Table-toppers Uttar Pradesh would be aiming to seal their berth in the knockout stage when they take on Tamil Nadu in their penultimate Ranji Trophy Group B match starting here on Saturday.
Last year's finalists, Tamil Nadu are at the sixth spot among eight teams with 13 points from just one win out of their six outings so far. Though Uttar Pradesh won just two of their six matches, they are topping the table with 21 points.
For Tamil Nadu, outright wins in this match and their next game against Haryana would boost their chances of making the next grade. Uttar Pradesh batsmen have been in form but they will be missing the services of Suresh Raina in this match.
The regular venue of the matches, MA Chidambaram Stadium, is under preparation for the first India-Pakistan ODI on December 30. Therefore, the wicket at the IIT Chemplast, would be to Tamil Nadu's advantage as most of its players know the behaviour of the track because it has been a permanent venue for local league fixtures.
In their previous matches, Tamil Nadu have failed to cash in on strong positions. Perhaps, an outright win and even a first innings lead in one of remaining two matches would help their cause. Uttar Pradesh's star batsmen and former India player Mohammed Kaif [514 runs with one century and three 50s], opener Mukul Dagar [494 runs including three centuries] and Harish Alam [371 runs including two tons] have been in good nick this season.
If they adapt to the Chemplast, Tamil Nadu bowlers will have a tough task in dealing with the situation. The UP bowlers - pacers Imtiaz Ahmed [27wickets], Bhuvaneswar Kumar [27 wickets] and Rajput [14 wickets] - are also in good form.
Tamil Nadu too would have a lot of expectations from the batting line-up with proven batsmen like Abhinav Mukund, S Badrinath, stand-in skipper Dinesh Karthik, Murali Vijay in their ranks.