Ranji Trophy: Aparajith stands tall on dry track

Bengal pacer Ishan Porel claims three wickets as Tamil Nadu end day one at 218/7 in the Elite Group B clash.

Aparajith’s footwork was in tune with the length of the ball and he found the gaps at the right time.   -  FILE PHOTO/BISWARANJAN ROUT


Baba Aparajith absorbed pressure and applied himself. Patience pays. The right-hander, surfacing at No. 3, strung together partnerships, retained concentration through the day, and found the right balance between offence and defence on a demanding surface.

The diminutive batsman’s unbeaten 81 (231b, 5x4, 1x6) was the heart of Tamil Nadu 218 for seven on the first day of its Ranji Trophy clash against Bengal at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday.

Aparajith’s footwork was in tune with the length of the ball. It was an innings where he mixed solid defence with hard running and judicious aggression where the gaps were found.

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An off-driven six off left-arm spinner Pradipta Pramanik, jumping down the track, was a top shot.

This wasn’t an easy first day pitch to bat on. There was some turn for the spinners and the odd delivery kept low on this dry track.

As the match progresses, the cracks on the surface can widen. Batting last on this track may prove hazardous.

Skipper Baba Indrajith fell for naught — he perished to a beauty from Pramanik that pitched on middle and hit off; but he won a vital toss.

The Bengal attack was disciplined. Lively paceman Ishan Porel, who has a quick-arm action and a semi side-on release, bowled stump-to-stump and gave little away. There was some reverse swing for him as well.

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The left-handed Abhinav Mukund was picked up at gully in the morning. Then Porel trapped a battling Kaushik Gandhi leg-before with a hint of reverse swing close to lunch.

This was a spell — his third — when the parsimonious Porel returned figures of 6-6-0-1.

For Tamil Nadu, Kaushik Gandhi (51, 128b, 6x4), reprieved early at first slip off Porel, was compact and organised.

Kaushik was judicious in his use of feet, collected his runs smartly. He stepped down to loft Aamir Gani over mid-wicket. And when the off-spinner switched to round the wicket, he paddled him fine.

The 73-run partnership for the second wicket in 175 balls between Kaushik and Aparajith was crucial for the host.

The enterprising N. Jagadeesan (39 off 69) stepped down to Pramanik to ease him over the wide long-off ropes. Just when threatening to inflict more damage, he was held at deep cover off the same bowler. It was moment of indiscretion.

For Bengal, Pramanik, who hardly uses his non-bowling arm, managed to extract turn. He, however, needed to deliver from nearer the stumps to create a more threatening angle.

Gani, who trapped B. Anirudh leg-before, is a work in progress, but does pivot and get his body into his action. And he has a lovely side-on release.

Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 218/7, Day I stumps, B Aparajith 81 not out, N Jagadeesan 39; I Porel 3/29, A Gani 2/66)

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