Tamil Nadu rises to Saurashtra’s challenge
CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu rose to the challenge posed by the Saurashtra bowlers on a slow surface on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Elite Group B contest at the MA Chidambaram Stadium here on Tuesday.
Tamil Nadu was made to toil for runs after stand-in skipper Pradosh Ranjan Paul elected to bat first, but ensured only four wickets fell by grinding it out in the middle.
Scoring at just a little over two runs per over, the home team reached 183 for four at stumps, when former captains Baba Indrajith (45 batting off 141 balls, 4 fours) and Vijay Shankar (11 batting) were unconquered at the crease.
Along with Indrajith, opener B Sai Sudharsan (45 off 122 balls, 4 fours) and No.3 Baba Aparajith (45 off 132 balls, 5 fours) were the joint top-scorers for the host on the day.
Despite missing regular skipper and frontline pacer Jaydev Unadkat, the Saurashtra bowling attack showcased its quality throughout, not taking long to land the first blow.
In just the second over, pace bowler Chirag Jani (2/30) sent Narayan Jagadeesan (6) packing after the Tamil Nadu opening batter outside-edged a moving delivery to wicketkeeper Harvik Desai.
Sai Sudharsan then welcomed Aparajith as the left-right pairing prevented the visitor from building on the early momentum. Whenever the touring team’s bowlers erred, although rarely, the duo punished them with impeccable boundaries on the off-side, especially over the cover and long-off regions. Having settled into a rhythm, Sai Sudharsan and Aparajith patiently guided Tamil Nadu to 82 for one at lunch.
But, soon after the interval, left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (1/51) uprooted Aparajith’s middle stump, bringing down the curtains on the 81-run second-wicket alliance. Sai Sudharsan too missed out on a half-century as the southpaw danced down the wicket to off-spinner Yuvrajsinh Dodiya (1/20), only to be caught short of his crease by Harvik.
Indrajith was handed a reprieve on five, when Prerak Mankad, stationed at first slip, dropped a catch off Dharmendrasinh. The 28-year-old made the most of the miss as he combined with Pradosh (19) for the fourth-wicket partnership which was worth 54 runs.
Although the duo could not find the gaps regularly, they tried to take the sting out of the Saurashtra pack with their fighting stand that lasted 204 balls.
With about an hour to go for the end of the day’s play, Prerak somewhat made up for the earlier drop by taking a sharp catch from Pradosh at second slip. A Jani delivery bounced higher than anticipated, with the Tamil Nadu captain finding it too hot to handle.
After getting to stumps unscathed, Indrajith said that the combination of a slow Chepauk track and top-class bowling from the opposition made life difficult for the batters. “The wicket (pitch) is very slow, it is not easy to score runs. That is the nature of the wicket. We did not expect to post 180-odd runs. They (Saurashtra bowlers) also bowled really well. So, it is not easy to score runs at a brisk pace,” Indrajith told reporters.
Ravindra Jadeja back in action
Saurashtra stand-in captain Ravindra Jadeja (0/36) did not have a productive day as he went wicketless in 17 overs after introducing himself in the 26th over. But, the 34-year-old, who had a brief chat with national selector Sridharan Sharath after the conclusion of play, would be pleased to return to where he belongs.
BRIEF SCORES: Tamil Nadu 183/4 in 90 overs (Baba Indrajith 45*, B Sai Sudharsan 45, Baba Aparajith 45, Chirag Jani 2/30) vs Saurashtra