Between periods of judicious defence, the two upped the ante. B. Aparajith straight-drove paceman Vinay Kumar with balance and timing. S. Badrinath sashayed down before dumping off-spinner Sunil Raju into the stands beyond wide long-on.
A young gun and an experienced campaigner built a partnership of substance against Karnataka on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Group ‘B’ match at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Friday.
Host Tamil Nadu progressed to a creditable 260 for two after winning the toss on a surface that could increasingly assist the spinners.
At stumps, the 18-year-old Aparajith was unbeaten on a well-constructed 85 (174b, 10x4, 1x6) and Badrinath on 61 (148b, 4x4, 1x4). The third-wicket pair had so far added 150 runs in 50.5 overs.
Earlier, the left-right opening combination of Abhinav Mukund (51, 121b, 5x4) and Arun Karthick (50, 99b, 5x4) found the gaps and ran well to gather 106 off 34.1 overs; a strong foundation had been laid.
Aparajith, walking in at No.3, displayed the full face off the willow when the ball was pitched up by the pacemen. Given the slightest width, he square-drove with panache.
Against spin, he was flee-footed. Aparajith danced down to left-arm spinner K.P. Appanna, created room, and fired the ball over long-off for the maximum. It was not an easy wicket to drive on and Karnataka had a strong infield. Aparajith still pierced the field.
The wily Badrinath blended solidity with effective shot-making. The nature of the surface demanded judicious front foot play. Given that several deliveries tended to keep low, playing off the back foot was risky business here.
Under the circumstances, the Karnataka pace pair of skipper Vinay and A. Mithun — there was hardly any carry for them on this Chepauk strip — faced a challenging task.
Appanna has become rather muscular – even spin bowlers do so much weight training these days — and this has adversely impacted what used to be a smooth action.
He did spin the ball away but does not quite possess an effective arm ball; so essential for a left-arm spinner.
It was the occasional off-spin of Ganesh Satish which ended the telling opening association. Karthick played for the turn but the ball went through straight.
Not much later, Raju removed Abhinav with a delivery that left the southpaw. The score was 110 for two when Badrinath and Aparajith joined forces. They put a price on their wickets.
Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: Abhinav Mukund c Gautam b Raju 51, K.B. Arun Karthick lbw b Ganesh Satish 50, B. Aparajith (batting) 85, S. Badrinath (batting) 61, Extras (b-10, lb-1, nb-2): 13, Total (for two wkts. in 90 overs): 260.
Fall of wickets: 1-106, 2-110.
Karnataka bowling: Vinay Kumar 11-2-38-0, Mithun 12-2-30-0, Appanna 21-1-57-0, Binny 8-1-29-0, Raju 24-4-72-1, Verma 11-2-21-0, Ganesh Satish 2-1-1-1, Pawan 1-0-1-0.