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Sharath scores 22nd Ranji century

By Our Special Correspondent

S. Sharath's 132 helped Tamil Nadu post 353 against Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy match.

LUCKNOW, NOV. 17. Scoring centuries is nothing new for S. Sharath. With 26 first-class hundreds, including 22 in the Ranji Trophy, this stylish left-hander has bailed Tamil Nadu out of trouble many times in the past decade. But on Wednesday, Sharath produced one of his best efforts in trying circumstances to steer his team to a position of strength against Uttar Pradesh in the Ranji Trophy Elite group `B' league match here.

Sharath, 39 overnight, hit 132 and took Tamil Nadu to 353 in its first innings. Uttar Pradesh was two without loss in five overs possible at stumps on the second day.

Tamil Nadu's hopes hinged on Sharath when it resumed at 197 for four. Sharath, who hit 105 in the opening league game against Hyderabad last week, produced a knock so different from the ones he has played so often.

He adapted well to the slow pitch, curbed his natural stroke-play and built an innings of immense value. For those statistically inclined, Sharath's innings lasted 486 minutes during which he faced 366 deliveries and hit 16 boundaries.

R.P. Singh scalps five

Before Sharath was last out and became medium pacer Rudra Pratap Singh's fifth victim, he had not only taken Tamil Nadu past the psychologically important 350-run mark but also helped himself to a 22nd Ranji century.

To some extent, U.P.'s seemingly negative approach helped Tamil Nadu's cause.

For instance, even after getting the wicket of K. Vasudeva Das with the second new ball early in the day, U.P. chose not to attack. They concentrated on checking the flow of runs and waited for the batsmen to commit mistakes. That proved to be their undoing.

Lower order defiance

Among Tamil Nadu's lower-order batsmen, Vikram Kumar and M. R. Shrinivas spent more than 90 minutes with Sharath. In fact, Sharath and Shrinivas lifted Tamil Nadu from 276 for seven to 333, adding 57 runs to seize the initiative.

During this time, Sharath completed his century but was dropped on 101 by Rohit Prakash at mid-on off left-arm spinner Praveen Gupta.

For U.P., R. P. Singh was the pick of the bowlers. Impressive was the youngster's disciplined effort on a pitch that did not encourage him. He moved the ball both ways and pitched the ball in right areas to earn Sharath's appreciation.

Now it remains to be seen how the Tamil Nadu bowlers fare against a worried U.P. batting line-up.

The scores:

Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan b R. P. Singh 52, S. Suresh c Md. Amir Khan b R. P. Singh 7, S. Sriram lbw b Zaidi 36, S. Badrinath c Khan b R. P. Singh 37, S. Sharath b R. P. Singh 132, K. Vasudeva Das lbw b Zaidi 24, Vikram Kumar c Parvinder b Shukla 21, R. Ramkumar b R. P. Singh 6, M. R. Shrinivas lbw b Raina 16, R. Raghuram lbw b Gupta 1, K. Arjun Sarathy (not out) 1. Extras: (b-6, lb-6, nb-2, w-6) 20. Total: 353.

Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-108, 3-120, 4-181, 5-223, 6-263, 7-276, 8-333, 9-342.

Uttar Pradesh bowling: A. W. Zaidi 34-10-86-2, R. P. Singh 40.4-11-96-5, Suresh Raina 18-5-41-1, Praveen Gupta 50-18-77-1, Shivakant Shukla 14-2-20-1, Rahat Elahi 17-7-21-0, Jyoti Yadav 1-1-0-0.

Uttar Pradesh — 1st innings: Rohit Prakash (batting) 2, Shivakant Shukla (batting) 0. Total: (for no loss) 2.

Tamil Nadu bowling: M. R. Shrinivas 2-1-1-0, S. Suresh 1-0-1-0, R. Ramkumar 1-1-0-0, R. Raghuram 1-1-0-0.

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