One side displayed intent, the other did not. The surface continued to offer only slow spin, but the game quickly turned in Karnataka’s favour. Aggression pays.
Karnataka took the Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy match by the scruff of its neck at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Monday.
The counter-attack by Ganesh Satish (200 not out, 418b, 18x4, 1x6) and wicket-keeper batsman Muralidaren Gautam (130 not out, 171b, 13x4, 1x6) was of the stirring kind. Tamil Nadu, its bowling rhythm disrupted, failed to defend a mammoth 538 in a battle for the lead.
Fortune favours the brave too. Gautam suffered a minor shoulder dislocation while celebrating his century, retired hurt, but returned after the fall of the sixth wicket to nail the first innings chase. Karnataka was not short of heroes on a day of fortune swings.
Beginning the fourth day needing requiring 300 more runs with seven wickets remaining, Karnataka conquered a peak amid cheers from its camp. It took three points from the match while Tamil Nadu ended up with just one.
Satish and Gautam joined forces when their side was in trouble at 289 for five. Satish, dogged and patient on day two, put his foot on the accelerator, driving fluently past cover, making room for the cut and flicking through the on-side. The man with a slightly open stance also opened up the gaps.
The game is a lot about partnerships and Satish and Gautam added 181 in 42.3 overs before Gautam returned to the dressing to attend to his injury. Then, the two batsmen put on 62 in only 9.3 overs for an unbeaten seventh wicket.
There is a natural fluency about Gautam’s batsmanship that is hard to ignore. He was light on his feet and heavy with his strokes. Strong on the leg-side, he made it hard for Tamil Nadu to plug the gaps.
It must also be said that the host let itself down on the final day after Amit Verma’s (31) leading edge was held by bowler Murugan Ashwin and Staurt Binny (10) was smartly held at mid-wicket by R. Prasanna off L. Balaji.
Then, Tamil Nadu put down as many as three catches. Crucially, Satish was reprieved at short-leg and slip by Prassana and Mukund. Baba Aparajith and R. Ashwin were the bowlers to suffer.
Given the inexperience of the Tamil Nadu spin attack and the nature of the track, the fielding needed to lift the bowling. Instead, the home fielders’ shoulders drooped.
Simply put, Tamil Nadu failed to stem the flow of runs, create pressure from both ends and pick wickets. Balaji displayed control but runs leaked from the other end. Malolan had problems with his line and Ashwin ran into no-balling problems.
This inexperienced attack, new to these situations, still holds out hope and Tamil Nadu should not panic.
The scores: Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: 538 for four decl.Karnataka — 1st innings: K.B. Pawan c Balaji b Mukund 69, R. Uthappa lbw b Malolan 53, G. Satish (not out) 200, M. Pandey c Karthik b Malolan 6, A. Verma c & b M. Ashwin 31, S. Binny c Prassana b Balaji 10, C. Gautam (not out) 130, S. Raju st. Karthik b Malolan 13; Extras (b-16, lb-6, w-4, nb-24): 50; Total (for six wkts in 187.4 overs decl.): 562.
Fall of wickets: 1-94, 2-168, 3-184, 4-266, 5-289, 6-500.
Tamil Nadu bowling: Balaji 21-10-30-1, Kaushik 18-2-56-0, Mohammad 22.4-4-69-0, Aparajith 21-4-59-0, M. Ashwin 48-2-176-1, Malolan 47-12-119-3, A. Mukund 7-1-17-1, Prasanna 3-1-14-0.