In a team that boasts of Test players and former national stars, Baba Aparajith made sure he would do the star turn as Tamil Nadu began its Ranji Trophy campaign on a strong note.
With an unbeaten 109 on the first day against Services, Aparajith continued to reassert his ability to play a long innings. When he walked in at No. 4 on Sunday, Tamil Nadu was struggling at 16 for two after electing to bat.
With Abhinav Mukund and M. Vijay gone within the first hour — both dismissed by Suraj Yadav — S. Badrinath needed someone to rebuild the innings with. Aparajith stepped up and took charge with elan. Their third wicket partnership of 168 runs was slow but steady, and it put Tamil Nadu in control.
The visitors were 220 for the loss of three wickets at stumps, with Dinesh Karthik on 11 at the other end.
Aparajith got runs on both sides of the wicket, and his defence was impeccable.
Badrinath was the more cautious early on, and that helped Aparajith settle down. The latter started with a four off Yadav, and had raced past Badrinath when the teams went to lunch at 74 for two.
Fittingly, it was Badrinath who brought up the 100 for the team with a four. However, just as it looked like the day would witness two centurions, Badrinath fell to a momentary lapse of concentration, inside-edging Shadab Nazar on to the stumps when on 81.
Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: Abhinav Mukund c Sarabjit b Yadav 0, M. Vijay b Yadav 14, S. Badrinath b Nazar 81, B. Aparajith (batting) 109, Dinesh Karthik (batting) 11, Extras (b-2, nb-1, w-2) 5; Total (for three wickets in 90 overs) 220.
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-16, 3-184.
Services bowling: Suraj Yadav 19-5-40-2, Nishan Singh 17-5-48-0, Shadab Nazar 23-7-42-1, Azaruddin Bloch 15-2-54-0, Rajat Paliwal 14-2-29-0, Pratik Desai 2-0-5-0.