Tamil Nadu largely made capital of its fortune with the toss in its Ranji Trophy Group ‘B’ match against Baroda in Vadodara at Moti Bagh on Saturday.
Choosing to bowl on a sufficiently hard, grass-trimmed wicket that offered the seamers both bounce and movement (particularly with the new ball), Tamil Nadu took nine Baroda wickets for 191 runs in 86 overs of play. Had it not been for an unbroken last-wicket partnership of 63, Dinesh Karthik’s side would have been even better placed.
V. Yomahesh (five for 25) was outstanding. He might have averaged 37.5 from his 43 previous first-class matches, but he showed that, at this level, when the mood takes him, the body co-operates, and the conditions aren’t unkind, he is a threat.
Ambati Rayudu (54, 106b, 5x4, 1x6) proved that the surface could be mastered by a technically organised, mentally disciplined batsman. For three minutes short of three hours, the Baroda captain played a different game to his team-mates. Two stylish straight drives and a skilful dab over the slips, all off Sunil Sam, caught the eye. He reached his half-century with a six off Malolan Rangarajan’s off-spin. But what Rayudu did in between — judging line and length expertly, defending securely when not leaving it alone — was just as impressive.
Saturday hadn’t started well for Tamil Nadu. The touring side missed running out left-handed opener Saurabh Wakaskar. The ball moreover was doing little off the straight.
Then, the ball lost its shape. The replacement ball responded better to J. Kaushik and Sam, the former getting it to leave the left-handers from around the wicket, the latter making it swing into them from over.
Sam broke through, two overs after the ball change, with a full delivery that didn’t swing in as much as the previous ones. Wakaskar, sound till then, drove loosely and nicked it.
First-change Yomahesh took over. Abhimanyu Chauhan received a beauty — he played the initial angle of the delivery, directed in from slightly wide on the crease. It straightened on the right-hander, turning him inside out before hitting the stumps. It was the best of Yomahesh’s wickets, and he celebrated it with a cartwheel.
Twenty-six for no loss became 39 for five, as Yomahesh rattled the top half. He struck twice in quick succession after lunch to register his five-for before Sam tempted Rayudu into swishing at a wide delivery.
As Murtuja Vahora (45 batting) and Bhargav Bhatt (23 batting) took their chances, the fielding flagged. M. Vijay, in the slips, and Abhinav Mukund, at cover, had completed fine catches to assist their bowlers. But Kaushik put one down in the deep, adding to Sam’s earlier caught-and-bowled miss, souring Tamil Nadu’s day slightly.
The scores: Baroda — 1st innings: S. Wakaskar c Karthik b Sam 14, A. Waghmode c Abhinav b Kaushik 20, A. Chauhan b Yomahesh 0, R. Solanki c Aparajith b Yomahesh 0, A. Rayudu c Prasanna b Sam 54, Pinal Shah c Vijay b Yomahesh 0, K. Panchal lbw b Yomahesh 12, Gagandeep Singh b Yomahesh 0, S. Vohra c Vijay b Kaushik 18, M. Vahora (batting) 45, B. Bhatt (batting) 23, Extras (lb-3, nb-1, w-1): 5; Total (for nine wkts. in 86 overs): 191.
Fall of wickets: 1-26, 2-35, 3-35, 4-35, 5-39, 6-71, 7-71, 8-117, 9-128.
Tamil Nadu bowling: Kaushik 23-7-45-2, Sam 26-8-61-2, Yomahesh 20-10-25-5, Malolan 11-2-41-0, Vijay Shankar 5-0-10-0, Vijay 1-0-6-0.
Other scores: Round seven, Day one: Group ‘A’: At Bhubaneswar: Railways 239 for four in 89 overs (Shivakant Shukla 109, Parag Madkaikar 70 batting) vs. Rajasthan. Toss: Railways.
At Rajkot: Mumbai 306 for two in 90 overs (Wasim Jaffer 79, Aditya Tare 122 batting, Rohit Sharma 72 batting) vs. Saurashtra. Toss: Mumbai.
At Kolkata: Hyderabad 115 in 37.1 overs (Shami Ahmed four for 36) vs. Bengal 79 for eight in 38 overs (A. Ashish Reddy five for 30). Toss: Bengal.
At Gwalior: Madhya Pradesh 281 for five in 88 overs (Jalaj Saxena 84, Devendra Bundela 92 batting) vs. Punjab. Toss: Punjab.
At Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh 227 in 73 overs (Suresh Raina 49, Arish Alam 52, Mohit Sharma five for 47) vs. Haryana 32 for one in nine overs. Toss: Haryana.
At Delhi: Maharashtra 196 in 55.2 overs (Ankit Bawne 58, Shrikant Mundhe 42) vs. Delhi 60 for three in 29 overs. Toss: Delhi.
At Mysore: Karnataka 308 for two in 90 overs (Lokesh Rahul 145 batting, C.M. Gautam 129 batting) vs. Vidarbha. Toss: Vidarbha.Group ‘C’:
At Porvorim (Goa): Himachal Pradesh 210 for five in 90 overs (Amit Kumar 76 batting, Mukesh Sharma 73) vs. Goa. Toss: Himachal Pradesh.
At Agartala: Kerala 275 for five in 87 overs (Rohan Prem 105 batting) vs. Tripura. Toss: Tripura.
At Dhanbad: Jharkhand 153 for six in 71 overs (Saurabh Tiwary 73 batting) vs. Andhra. Toss: Andhra.
At Delhi: Jammu & Kashmir 85 in 29.5 overs (Suraj Yadav four for 35) vs. Services 150 for six in 55 overs (Rajat Paliwal 66 batting, Ram Dayal four for 45). Toss: J&K.