The conditions were difficult but not unplayable when Tamil Nadu was asked to bat first on a pitch that had fair amount of grass.
However, Odisha failed to press home the advantage as left-handed opener Abhinav Mukund kept one end going despite losing two senior partners in Murali Vijay and Subramanian Badrinath cheaply in their group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy match at the DRIEMS ground near here on Friday.
Overnight rain first robbed off the morning session of play and after tea bad light interfered to reduce the day’s play to 164 minutes in which Odisha bowled 31 overs to leave Tamil Nadu at 66 for two.
Mukund was unbeaten on 21 (164m, 95b, 3x4) and Baba Aparajith on 3 when play was halted.
Odisha’s bowling certainly lacked focus. With the ball seaming and swinging, it was an ideal situation for the home pace attack to exploit the conditions. Over and above, the two Tamil Nadu openers Mukund and Vijay were also circumspect.
It took more than 20 overs to separate the opening pair when Vijay edged Alok Mangaraj to third slip where Rakesh Mohanty accepted the offering.
Badrinath came in at No. 3 and found Mangaraj too hot to handle. But he steadied himself and played a lovely extra-cover drive.
He and Mukund added 21 runs in 7.4 overs before Basant Mohanty brought one in sharply to bowl Badrinath through ‘the gate’.
Mukund occupied the crease for two hours and 44 minutes and hit only three boundaries out of which one was a confident hook of Mangaraj while the other two were edges down the leg side.
Had Rakesh snapped up Mukund at third slip off Mangaraj when on 13 (team score 41 for one) the story would have been different.
Odisha’s fielders also failed to effect a run out chance when the openers were caught in the middle in two minds. Mangaraj’s one bounce throw beat wicketkeeper Haladhar Das. These two chances would have mattered the most for the home side.
TN would be looking at the unbeaten pair to continue the good work on Saturday provided rain stays away.
Mediumpacer M. Saleem Mohammed and young leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin for Tamil Nadu and Odisha’s top order bat Sandeep Mulia made their debut.
The scores: Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: A. Mukund (batting) 21, M. Vijay c Rakesh Mohanty b Mangaraj 15, S. Badrinath b Basant Mohanty 11, B. Aparajith (batting) 3; Extras (b-8, lb-2, nb-5, w-1): 16; Total (for two in 31 overs): 66.
Fall of wickets: 1-37, 2-58.
Odisha bowling: Basant Mohanty 12-2-26-1, Mangaraj 10-3-21-1, Behera 8-3-9-0, Samantray 1-1-0-0.