Left-arm spinners S. Ajith Ram (4/68) and R. Sai Kishore (3/67) bowled Tamil Nadu into a position of strength against Assam on day three of the Ranji Trophy clash in Chennai at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Thursday.
The two scalped seven wickets between them to dismiss Assam for 266 in the first innings and helped the home team take a 274-run first-innings lead before enforcing the follow-on.
On a two-paced pitch with variable bounce, Ajith Ram continued to impress, relying on flight and guile, while Sai Kishore was relentless with his variations, challenging both edges of the bat.
In the second innings, Assam openers Rahul Hazarika and Shubham Mandal held themselves back by eschewing any extravagant shots and took their side to safety at 66 for no loss.
Resuming the day at 120 for four, Assam’s overnight batters Gokul Sharma and Abhishek Thakuri started positively, finding the fence regularly in the first few overs.
Sandeep Warrier earned the first breakthrough for Tamil Nadu when his delivery scooted low and broke Gokul’s leg-stump before skipper Sai Kishore accounted for Thakuri, caught at slip.
Assam went to lunch at 200 for seven, but Sarupam Purkayastha (74) frustrated Tamil Nadu as he made a valiant half-century after the break.
Against the second new ball, Purkayastha enjoyed the challenge as he picked two boundaries in one over off both Sai Kishore and Trilok Nag to get to his half-century.
Sai Kishore eventually broke the logjam when he rearranged the stumps of Akash Sengupta and then Purkayastha, the last wicket to fall.
After enforcing the follow-on, the home team bowlers were miserly but did not create as many chances as they would have liked.
On the final day, Tamil Nadu - still ahead by 208 runs - will look to come out with more intensity to try and bowl out Assam quickly in its quest for a big win.