Thanks to Devendra Bundela and Anand Rajan’s final session obstinacy, Tamil Nadu faces an improbable task of posting an outright victory in its Ranji Trophy group B match at the Holkar Stadium. TN chose not to bat on day three and Madhya Pradesh laboured to 221 for seven before the umpires called off the play due to bad light with five overs remaining.

In fact, it was the unbeaten eighth-wicket partnership between Bundela and Rajan which ensured that the host didn’t bat for a second time on Saturday. The association currently stands at 53 off 158 balls. Rajan displayed remarkable determination and unyielding patience to support his skipper.

In fact, it was nothing but impatience earlier in the day that had placed the duo in choppy waters.

Undone by aggression

Jalaj Saxena displayed uninhibited aggression during his short stay at the crease, scoring 21 off 22 balls with three fours and a pull for six. The all-rounder survived once when he was caught behind off a no-ball but he stuck to his ways. His downfall arrived soon after as Sunil Sam’s length delivery hit his left pad in front of the stumps. Saxena’s partner Satyam Choudhary discarded his initial caution to find a few boundaries but the introduction of Aushik Srinivas countered his approach. With the eleventh ball of his spell, the left-arm spinner dislodged the stumps as Choudhary tried to cut a straightening delivery.

Another wicket fell 14 balls later, in unfortunate circumstances. Naman Ojha and Mohnish Mishra attempted a risky third run only for the latter to fall short of his ground as Vijay Shankar delivered an excellent throw from the boundary. Ojha, however, remained unaffected by his side’s difficult situation and counter-attacked briefly.

Major blow

Two overs before lunch, though, a major blow was delivered by Balaji. Ojha had already struck two fours in the over when a length delivery seamed inwards to find the gap between his bat and pad.

Proceedings after lunch hardly soothed MP’s worries as Udit Birla was dismissed within the opening half-hour by Srinivas. Only 66 runs arrived in the afternoon session’s 28 overs with the spinner particularly ensuring that extraordinary shots were required to break the shackles.

Rameez Khan and Salman Baig were evidently troubled by the lack of runs. The former’s attempted pull of Balaji only resulted in him top-edging the ball while the latter failed to lift Srinivas over midwicket after stepping out from the crease.

The scores:

Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: 532 for eight decl.

Madhya Pradesh — 1st innings: Satyam Choudhary b Srinivas 21, Jalaj Saxena lbw b Sam 21, Naman Ojha b Balaji 41, Mohnish Mishra (run out) 0, Devendra Bundela (not out) 64, Udit Birla lbw b Srinivas 10, Rameez Khan c Dinesh Karthik b Balaji 22, Salman Baig c Balaji b Srinivas 4, Anand Rajan (not out) 29; Extras (nb-9): 9; Total (for seven wkts. in 85 overs): 221.

Fall of wickets: 1-28 (Saxena), 2-64 (Choudhary), 3-70 (Mishra), 4-97 (Ojha), 5-114 (Birla), 6-160 (Khan), 7-168 (Baig).

Tamil Nadu bowling: Sunil Sam 17-5-44-1, L. Balaji 15-6-39-2, Aswin Crist 14-4-54-0, Vijay Shankar 1-0-9-0, Aushik Srinivas 30-12-38-3, B. Aparajith 5-0-26-0, Abhinav Mukund 3-0-11-0.

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