Omens sometimes do come true. Services had a hint on Day One of what they were up against when Baba Aparajith was batting at the crease.
And their fears were justified as the 19-year-old became the first double-century maker of the season before falling for 203. By then, Tamil Nadu was firmly in control of the game.
The visitors declared their innings at 456 for seven, hoping to make some inroads into the Services batting in the last hour of play.
The host though held on and was 17 for no loss at stumps, Pratik Desai batting on 6 and captain Soumik Chatterjee on 3.
The day belonged to Aparajith, who switched gears to suit the occasion. Being the senior member in the partnership when Tamil Nadu resumed play, Aparajith let Dinesh Karthik play the shots while keeping his own runs coming in singles. But that didn’t mean he played a slow knock.
The ball didn’t move, didn’t rise and Aparajith, who kept a straight bat all through with a rock-solid defence, occasionally stepped out to the shorter delivery and sent it sailing to the ropes.
In all, Aparajith hit 19 fours, three of them flying straight over the bowler.
He even hit a huge six over midwicket that landed at the foot of the stadium boundary!
At the other end Karthik, playing a confident knock, hit a couple of boundaries before falling for 48 in an attempt to sweep off-spinner Azaruddin Bloch. Ramasawamy Prasanna walked in and the run fest continued. Tamil Nadu crossed the 300 mark with a single in the 120th over, and the next one saw Aparajith reach his 150 with an inside edge that went for four.
His 200 came up with an exquisite drive to mid-on, but three runs later came his first mistimed shot that saw the ball land safely in Pratik Desai’s hands at cover to end his almost 10-hour vigil.
It was the end of an innings that exemplified maturity beyond years and an unruffled temperament that bodes well.
Prasanna got his own half ton immediately after tea and Tamil Nadu declared less than an hour before close.
The scores: Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: Abhinav Mukund c Sarabjit Singh b Yadav 0, Murali Vijay b Yadav 14, Subramaniam Badrinath b Nazar 81, Baba Aparajith c Desai b Nishan 203, Dinesh Karthik c Desai b Bloch 48, R. Prasanna (not out) 74, Malolan Rangarajan c Chatterjee b Nishan 6, Lakshmipathy Balaji st Sarabjit Singh b Paliwal 10, Aswin Crist (not out) 5, Extras (b-9, lb-1, nb-1, w-4): 15; Total (for seven wickets declared in 167 overs): 456.
Fall of wickets: 1-7, 2-16, 3-184, 4-284, 5-395, 6-412, 7-435.
Services bowling: Suraj Yadav 28-6-63-2, Nishan Singh 37-13-84-2, Shadab Nazar 34-8-81-1, Azaruddin Bloch 33-2-124-1, Rajat Paliwal 30-2-74-1, Pratik Desai 3-0-8-0, Anshul Gupta 1-0-4-0, Soumik Chatterjee 1-0-8-0.
Services — 1st innings: Pratik Desai (batting) 6, Soumik Chatterjee (batting) 3, Extras (b-1, lb-1, nb-6): 8; Total (for no loss in 11 overs): 17.
Tamil Nadu bowling: Sunil Sam 6-2-7-0, Lakshmipathy Balaji 3-0-6-0, Malolan Rangarajan 2-1-2-0.