He displayed composure, was decisive as he stroked off either foot, and showed the ability to manoeuvre the ball around. Dinesh Karthick produced a gem on a difficult pitch at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Tuesday.

And the Tamil Nadu ploy of sending the right-handed Karthik to open with southpaw Abhinav Mukund worked. The right-left combination unsettled the Bengal spinners’ line.

Karthik was unbeaten on a classy 56 (109b, 7x4) as Tamil Nadu, chasing 185, was on a comfortable 102 for one at stumps on the second day of the Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy match.

Karthik was the cynosure. Between periods of sound defence, he stepped down to drive, cut late, and swept with panache.

Good start

In a sizeable partnership, Karthik and Mukund (26) put on 72 for the first wicket in 28.5 overs.

Mukund batted with resolve before being picked up at silly point off off-spinner Writtick Chatterjee.

Frayed tempers were on display too when Mukund and Writtick Chatterjee, exchanging hot words, moved towards each other. The square-leg umpire had to intervene.

Earlier, Tamil Nadu was dismissed for a shocking 85 and then Bengal was bowled out for 139. The pitch assisted spin to a considerable extent but was not an under-prepared one. The batsmen needed to display greater skill and belief.

Left-arm spinner Rahil Shah and off-spinner Malolan Rangarajan varied the pace without flighting their deliveries — the right ploy on this surface — and scalped six and four respectively to finish with 10 wickets each for the match.

For Bengal, skipper Laxmi Ratan Shukla’s 25-ball 46 (5x4, 2x6) was a daring innings of clean hitting. He swept hard to disrupt the line of the spinners. Sudip Chatterjee (39, 82b, 3x4) fought doggedly.

The scores:

Bengal — 1st innings: 130.

Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: B. Aparajith b I. Saxena 8, A. Mukund c S. Das b I. Saxena 14, S. Badrinath c L.R. Shukla b S. Lahiri 3, B. Indrajith c A. Eashwaran b S. Lahiri 3, D. Karthik c S. Das b A. Nandy 28, Vijay Shankar b W. Chatterjee 6, R. Prasanna c W. Chatterjee b A. Nandy 0, M. Rangarajan c L.R. Shukla b A. Nandy 2, L. Balaji c S. Das b A. Nandy 1, R. Shah (not out) 8, A. Srinivas c A. Nandy b S. Lahiri 4; Extras (b-8): 8; Total (in 42.3 overs): 85.

Fall of wickets: 1-16, 2-29, 3-29, 4-45, 5-66, 6-66, 7-67, 8-69, 9-70.

Bengal bowling: Ashoke Dinda 4-1-4-0, Sourasish Lahiri 16.3-5-33-3, Iresh Saxena 10-2-21-2, Jitendra Shaw 2-1-1-0, Arnab Nandy 6-1-9-4, Writtick Chatterjee 4-1-9-1.

Bengal — 2nd innings: G. Basu lbw b R. Shah 3, S. Lahiri c D. Karthik b R. Shah 15, A. Eashwaran c D. Karthik b M. Rangarajan 5, S. Chatterjee c D. Karthik b M. Rangarajan 39, S. Das lbw b R. Shah 1, L.R. Shukla c D. Karthik b R. Shah 46, W. Chatterjee c Vijay Shankar b M. Rangarajan 8, A. Nandy lbw b R. Shah 5, A. Dinda c L. Balaji b R. Shah 8, I. Saxena c A. Mukund b M. Rangarajan 6, J. Shaw (not out) 1; Extras (b-2): 2, Total (in 40.3 overs): 139.

Fall of wickets: 1-3, 2-22, 3-24, 4-31, 5-89, 6-108, 7-118, 8-132, 9-132.

Tamil Nadu bowling: Laxmipathy Balaji 3-0-9-0, Rahil Shah 18-4-64-6, Malolan Rangarajan 14.3-0-48-4, Aushik Srinivas 5-0-16-0.

Tamil Nadu — 2nd innings: A. Mukund c A. Eashwaran b W. Chatterjee 26, D. Karthick (batting) 56, S. Badrinath (batting) 16, Extras (lb-4): 4, Total (for one wkt. in 39 overs): 102.

Fall of wicket: 1-72.

Bengal bowling: Ashoke Dinda 5-0-10-0, Sourasish Lahiri 11-3-22-0, Jitendra Shaw 4-1-4-0, Arnab Nandy 7-2-20-0, Iresh Saxena 7-3-21-0, Writtick Chatterjee 5-0-21-1.

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