The first ball of the match hurt Tamil Nadu, but a century from R. Prasanna provided the healing touch. From a precarious 20 for four, Tamil Nadu finished the day at 258 for seven with Prasanna going strong on 104 and A. Aswin Crist on 54.
Electing to bat, the batsmen’s response was out of sync with the challenge posed by some accurate bowling by the Uttar Pradesh bowlers, especially R.P. Singh. The Ranji Trophy contest unfolded some interesting phases as bowlers tested the batsmen on a seamer-friendly pitch.
The early moisture was a handicap for the batsmen. Discipline and application was the demand but a couple of uncharacteristic essays had Tamil Nadu in trouble.
With the exception of the delightfully aggressive Prasanna, who faced 207 balls and hit 11 fours and a six, and the fast-improving B. Aparajith, the batting looked shorn of commitment.
Abhinav Mukund was jolted by R.P. Singh, who struck off the first ball of the match, hitting the batsman on his pads. Badrinath played an expansive drive that ended in slips.
Tamil Nadu was then surprised by debutant Amit Mishra, who foxed M. Vijay, the batsman playing on to an incoming ball. When Dinesh Karthik fell, Tamil Nadu appeared headed for an embarrassing collapse.
Aparajith stepped in and held the innings together in the company of Prasanna, a left-hander in his ninth first-class season.
The two produced a fifth-wicket partnership of 107 runs. Aparajith had a reprieve on 10 when Tanmay Srivastava grassed a tough offering at square-leg off R.P. Singh and then, at 28, Piyush Chawla dropped a stinging bowler’s back drive.
The two blemishes apart, Aparajith showed a fine sense of maturity and concentration as he dug himself in to stem the slide. But, Prasanna was the star of the day, rarely hustled and building on his strength — brilliant backfoot play.
He swept the ball to good effect and upset the rhythm of the bowlers, where R.P. Singh was a constant threat. Prasanna’s fourth century in the competition was well-timed, giving Tamil Nadu a decent chance of forging a fight, thanks to the unbeaten 79-run stand with Aswin Crist for the eighth wicket.
Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: Abhinav Mukund lbw b R.P. Singh 0, M. Vijay b Mishra 0, S. Badrinath c Kaif b R.P. Singh 4, B. Aparajith c Dwivedi b Imtiaz 60, Dinesh Karthik c Alam b Mishra 5, R. Prasanna (batting) 104, Malolan Rangarajan c Dwivedi b Alam 14, L. Balaji b Imtiaz 7, A. Aswin Crist (batting) 54; Extras (b-2, lb-5, nb-2, w-1): 10; Total (for seven wkts. in 90 overs): 258.
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-4, 3-14, 4-20, 5-127, 6-154, 7-179.
Uttar Pradesh bowling: R.P. Singh 21-3-59-2, Imtiaz Ahmed 21-3-63-2, Amit Mishra 18-9-27-2, Prashant Gupta 2-1-2-0, Piyush Chawla 20-2-80-0, Arish Alam 8-2-20-1.