The cold weather here is indeed making things difficult for the Tamil Nadu camp. But the playing conditions of the National championship have more than made up for the visiting team's discomfort.
After two sessions were lost for the second successive day in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinals here and the completion of the first innings appearing increasingly difficult on the final day on Monday, Tamil Nadu is better placed than Haryana for a semifinal spot.
As far as the current status of the match is concerned, Tamil Nadu is 72 for two in 24 overs after Haryana declared its first innings at the overnight 379 for six.
On the right side
Abhinav Mukund, with three boundaries in his unbeaten 30, was comfortable during his 117-minute stay in testing conditions even as opener Arun Karthik and S. Badrinath offered catches in the slip-cordon to give Haryana some hope. Still, the dice is heavily loaded in Tamil Nadu's favour to advance on run-rate, since it finds itself on the right side of an otherwise lop-sided playing condition.
Given the thick fog that descends every evening and reduces the following day's play to around two hours, not much play is likely on Monday to decide the first-innings lead.
The playing condition, dealing with the status of a quarterfinal or a semifinal match where neither team manages the first innings lead, is clearly in favour of the team batting second.
As per the rule, the team with the superior run-rate would prevail. But this rule would be applicable only if the team batting second bats for a minimum of 30 overs.
In this match, Tamil Nadu has to maintain a better run-rate than Haryana's 3.26 runs per over for the duration of its unfinished innings. So far, Tamil Nadu's run-rate is 3.00 but it holds a huge advantage.
On Monday, Tamil Nadu can launch a calculated assault to attain the desired run-rate in the first six overs and then maintain it for the remainder of the innings. Since wickets lost or taken do not come into the calculations, Tamil Nadu needs to do just enough, without taking undue risks against a rather unlucky home team.
Should Tamil Nadu not get even six more overs to play, it will still go through to the semifinal since its net run-rate in the league is better than that of Haryana.
On the other hand, Haryana faces a far bigger challenge. It needs to restrict Tamil Nadu's run-rate to under 3.26 which is likely only if its bowlers strike in a big way.
In 24 overs so far, Haryana bowlers did not make much of an impact. The home side missed the medium pace of Sachin Rana, the all-rounder who severely hurt his already sore-back while playing a friendly game of football on the cricket field on Saturday.
Haryana — 1st innings: 379 for six decl.
Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: Abhinav Mukund (batting) 30, Arun Karthik c Sunny b Budhwar 24, S. Badrinath c Sunny b Joginder 13, Dinesh Karthik (batting) 0, Extras (lb-1, nb-2, w-2) 5, Total (for two wickets in 24 overs) 72.
Fall of wickets: 1-39, 2-72.
Haryana bowling: Joginder 8-2-25-1, Budhwar 8-3-15-1, Sunny 4-1-15-0, Dhruv 4-0-16-0.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy