Ranji Trophy: Mukund 154 keeps Tamil Nadu afloat

Chasing Uttar Pradesh's massive first-innings total of 524, Abhinav Mukund's fluent 154 helped Tamil Nadu to 398 for six. Baba Indrajith (70, 76b, 12x4) and Aswin Crist (2, 10b) are at the crease with their team 126 runs behind UP.

ranji trophy abhinav mukund

Abhinav Mukund was all class as he timed his drives -- rarely in the air -- to perfection.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Last Ranji Trophy season, Abhinav Mukund managed 182 runs in 10 innings. On Saturday, the Tamil Nadu opener got his second century in as many games and took his team to the edge of a first innings lead against Uttar Pradesh (UP) as the game meandered towards a draw.

Chasing UP's massive first-innings total of 524, Mukund's fluent 154 helped Tamil Nadu to 398 for six. Baba Indrajith (70, 76b, 12x4) and Aswin Crist (2, 10b) are at the crease with their team 126 runs behind UP. Sunday's first session may decide which team takes three points from the game.

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Mukund and Kaushik Gandhi began the day well, scoring above three runs an over consistently. The boundaries came at will with the two batsmen cutting and driving with full control on either side of the pitch and the fast outfield doing the rest. UP's fielders were in a futile leather hunt.

Mukund, in particular, was all class. With the ball staying low and little chance to play in the air, the 26-year old timed most of his drives to perfection. He struck 26 fours and the lone six of the innings -- towards fine leg.

Gandhi fell leg-before to an ankle-high delivery from Ankit Rajpoot and Baba Aparajith's poor run with the bat continued, his off stump uprooted on 11 by debutant Dhruv Pratap Singh for his maiden first-class wicket.

With the pitch becoming flatter and unhelpful for the bowlers, Mukund and Dinesh Karthik put on a 132-run partnership. Dhruv Pratap was made to suffer the most. The 60th over saw Karthik score three consecutive fours off him – through covers, to third man and square leg – as Mukund ended it with one to midwicket.

Karthik was caught behind off occasional spinner Umang Sharma, immediately after tea, for 73. But he was convinced that he had not made contact with the ball. Then, Mukund finally fell to Kuldeep Yadav caught by Sharma in the slip. But Indrajith ensured the scoring rate did not drop.

"It was not easy to bat on but there was value for your shots," said Mukund after the day's play. "There were runs if you could hang around. The ball was staying low and there was awkward bounce and cracks are beginning to open up."

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