Thirty-two minutes was as long as Maharashtra could keep out defeat on Tuesday.

Tamil Nadu picked up the opponent’s last two wickets to clinch a 104-run victory — its first outright win in this season’s Ranji Trophy.

The fourth and final day of the Group ‘B’ contest never looked to be more than a mere formality.

Akshay Darekar was the first to go when he edged Malolan Rangarajan to second slip. A few minutes later, Samad Fallah chipped R. Aushik Srinivas to mid-wicket to leave Ankit Bawne stranded on 24.

Tamil Nadu skipper L. Balaji admitted it was an important victory. “Our first match was affected by rain and we conceded the lead in the last game (against Karnataka). So this win means a lot to us.

It motivates us to take our performances to another level. Everyone contributed to this win. (R.) Prasanna played a crucial innings, Yomi (V. Yomahesh) did well with bat and ball, and Dinesh (Karthik) had a great time with the gloves. It was also nice to see a result-oriented wicket that assisted the seamers and spinners.”

Man-of-the-match Malolan Rangarajan, who picked up seven wickets in the game and scored a vital fifty in the first essay, said it was the “perfect platform” for him to come good. “I have always been confident of my batting ability. The one match I played last year (against Madhya Pradesh) indicated that I had a lot to work on. I have reduced my weight and worked on physical strength.

The team management has been fantastic; they have never put pressure on the youngsters. (Head Coach) V.B. (Chandrasekhar) told me that I had to perform the role of a lead spinner.”

Tamil Nadu will take on Delhi at the latter’s backyard in the next round of matches, beginning on November 24. Maharashtra will lock horns with Vidarbha at Nagpur.

The scores: Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: 276.

Maharashtra — 1st innings: 233.

Tamil Nadu — 2nd innings: 149.

Maharashtra — 2nd innings: Harshad Khadiwale b Yomahesh 13, Satyajit Bacchav c & b Balaji 4, Chirag Khurana c Abhinav b Balaji 2, Sangram Atitkar c & b Malolan 17, Nikhil Paradkar b Yomahesh 0, Ankit Bawne (not out) 24, Kedar Jadhav c Karthik b Malolan 0, Rohit Motwani b Aushik 14, Shrikant Mundhe c Aparajith b Aushik 0, Akshay Darekar c Badrinath b Malolan 3, Samad Fallah c Vijay b Aushik 5; Extras (b-3, nb-3): 6; Total (in 46.5 overs): 88.

Fall of wickets: 1-5, 2-9, 3-38, 4-38, 5-45, 6-45, 7-73, 8-73, 9-81.

Tamil Nadu bowling: L. Balaji 8-3-13-2, Aushik 9.5-2-15-3, Malolan 17-5-34-3, Yomahesh 4-2-10-2, Kaushik 6-1-11-0, Aparajith 2-0-2-0.

Points: Tamil Nadu 6 (8), Maharashtra 0 (1).

Keywords: Ranji Trophy

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