He floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee - as an immortal quote of Muhammed Ali says joyfully.
Indeed Ajith Ram presents a delightful picture as he bowls. The ambling run-up, the languid high-arm action, the easy body-behind-the-ball release, and the strong revs using wrist and fingers.
Kiss of death
The flight is tantalising; for the batter, it is often the kiss of death.
Indeed ‘Killing ’em softly’ being his motto, left-arm spinner Ajith followed his nine-wicket match haul against Assam with another nine-for in the game as Tamil Nadu defeated Saurashtra, chasing 266, by 59 runs, on day four of the Ranji Trophy duel at Chepauk.
For Saurashtra, opener Harvik Desai batted with poise and composure, footwork and timing, soft hands and decaying-wicket-batting skills for a heroic 101 (205b, 10x4, 3x6).
Ajith returned figures of six for 54, derailing Saurashtra and enabling the host to finish the season on a high with two successive wins in the Elite B league. Tamil Nadu finished with 21 points. Saurashtra, with 26, has already qualified.
The worrying phase for Tamil Nadu came when Desai and Arpit Vasavada raised 89 runs for the fifth wicket off 187 balls. There was turn and bounce on offer, and a few deliveries did keep low. Batting demanded application, the ability to take calculated risks and a bit of luck.
Desai used his feet and cover-drove with elegance. He also worked the ball around, and, thrice, came down to loft M. Siddharth, twice, and Ajith, once, over long-off for sixes, the third taking him to a much-coveted century.
He said later, “This is my best innings in First Class cricket. The pitch was so challenging.”
Vasavada (45, 88b, 3x4), a well-organised southpaw, fell to left-arm spinner Siddharth, succumbing to the cut. The breakthrough was made. Then, Ajith took over.
Ravindra Jadeja, displaying intent, attempted to reverse-sweep Ajith Ram and was held at slip. A key strike. Man-of-the-Match Ajith Ram was.