Seldom has patience figured among the qualities of most Haryana batsmen. But centurions Nitin Saini and Sunny Singh chose the right stage to display fortitude and their sense of purpose that left Tamil Nadu baffled on the first day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal here on Friday.
Haryana may have lost the toss but gained much more, including the psychological edge over the visiting team after reaching 293 for two, with Saini still around with his career-best 137.
If Tamil Nadu skipper Dinesh Karthik, who won the toss, expected the home team to capitulate in seamer-friendly conditions, he was in for a rude shock.
Saini and Sunny came together with just 19 on the board and put together a second-wicket stand of 241 — the best for the team this season.
All credit to Sunny and Saini for the way they frustrated Tamil Nadu's designs. Saini, dropped on 11 by Karthik and again on 28 by S. Badrinath in the slips, used the opportunity to improve on his previous best of 125 against Jharkhand.
He took his time to settle down, then drove and pulled with ease. With the Tamil Nadu bowlers getting increasingly frustrated, he added to their woes by not missing a single opportunity to send the ball across or over the ropes.
Saini smashed two sixes and 15 boundaries as compared to Sunny's three sixes and 10 fours. Sunny, who scored three centuries including a career-best 312 against Madhya Pradesh last season, reached his 10th century in the National championship with a six.
Saini and Sunny owe were helped by some ill-directed bowling. Medium pacers L. Balaji, C. Ganapathy and, to a lesser-extent, Sunil Sam were all guilty of not making the batsmen play enough. The ball was seaming but it did not trouble the batsmen since most deliveries were pitched well outside the off-stump.
Later, off-spinner R. Ashwin and left-arm spinner Aushik Srinivas could not pitch the ball right to make the most of the turn the surface offered. Ashwin, who was surprisingly introduced only in the 46th over, did not do his growing reputation any good by adopting a ‘negative' line in a bid to stop the run-flow.
He was lucky to get Sunny after the ball jumped and kissed the gloves for an easy catch.
Aushik, on the other hand was tidy without being effective. All the five sixes of the day came off Aushik's bowling but he was not disheartened.
Haryana — 1st innings: Nitin Saini (batting) 137, Rahul Dewan c Karthik b Sam 10, Sunny Singh c Arun Karthik b Ashwin 102, Ankit Rawat (batting) 9; Extras (b-6, lb-12, nb-12, w-5): 35; Total (for two wickets in 90 overs): 293.
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-260.
Tamil Nadu bowling: Balaji 15-2-58-0, Ganapathy 14-3-40-0, Sunil Sam 14-3-40-1, R. Sathish 8-2-18-0, Abhinav Mukund 2-0-9-0, Aushik Srinivas 15-3-52-0, R. Ashwin 22-1-58-1.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy