Ranji Trophy: TN plays it safe after Andhra's defiant first session

Tamil Nadu had an opportunity to set Andhra a target and attempt to shake things up. But then, it wasn’t willing to take any risk on a pitch that slowed down but did not really challenge the batsmen.

B. Sumanth's patient century helped his side's plan to bat for a long time in the first innings.   -  M. VEDHAN

Tamil Nadu could have upped the tempo and put Andhra under pressure on a final day surface with Ravichandran Ashwin in its ranks. Instead the side crawled.  

Seemingly content with a point after conceding a 133-run lead, the side inched its way to 112 for two in 54 overs – batting two full sessions – against Andhra on the third day of the Ranji Trophy duel at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium.

The side had an opportunity to set Andhra a target and attempt to shake things up. But then, it wasn’t willing to take any risk on a pitch that slowed down but did not really challenge the batsmen.

For Andhra, B. Sumanth made a patient 109 (280b, 5x4, 1x6) that suited the side’s game-plan. As the underdog, Andhra was content with three points. It was Tamil Nadu that had to do all the running.

To make matters worse for the host, Test opener Murali Vijay hurt his ankle while running between wickets and hobbled off the arena. The injured area strapped, Vijay said he would bat if needed.   

Left-handed opener and skipper Abhinav Mukund made a workmanlike unbeaten 54 (137b, 4x4) hardly ever managing to dominate the attack. B. Indrajith faced 51 deliveries for his 16 and B. Aparajith was batting on a 60-ball 15. The proceedings were mundane.

ANDHRA COACH: 'WE'D GO FOR A WIN ON DAY FOUR'

Andhra coach Sanath Kumar said his side would go for a win if it strikes early on day four at Chepauk.

“The first session is crucial. If we pick wickets we are in with a chance,” he said.

Asked about the kind of total his side could chase down on the final day, Sanath said, “I would say around 150.”

Talking about B. Sumanth’s hundred, he said, “He is a good batsman, you can make out from the way he bats. He has been in fine form this season.”

Sanath said the fact that several Andhra cricketers had experience in the TNCA first division league helped the side here. “The boys know the conditions and get a lot of confidence from that. We played Shoaib Mohammad in this match because of this factor.”


Earlier, Tamil Nadu made heavy weather of the last three Andhra wickets – the visiting side batted all but nine minutes of the lengthy 150-minute first session.

The bowlers could have been shuffled around more with switches in field placements if only to put doubts in batsmen’s mind, create chances. Tamil Nadu, though, was content to play the routine.

A limited bowler on better wickets since he does not flight and extract bounce, Rahil Shah sent down nine successive overs without success while off-spinner Washington Sundar, coming off a 11-wicket match haul in the Duleep Trophy final, did not get a bowl.

With Ashwin – he scalped four – lacking support, Tamil Nadu could not bowl in partnerships.

ANDHRA GIFTS FIVE RUNS

The most productive bunch of runs – a five – for a ponderous Tamil Nadu was a gift from the opposition.

Umpires fined Andhra five runs because Ashwin Hebbar, who was substituted, returned to the arena after Tea without informing the two officials.

A senior umpire said, “If a player [in the eleven] returns to the field and handles the ball without the captain informing the umpires, the fielding team will be penalised five runs. The same rule applies even if the substitute comes in and handles the ball without informing the umpire.”

For Andhra, Sumanth combined technique with resilience. He played closed to his body against pacemen, used his feet while combating spinners.

The 29-year-old batsman handled Ashwin capably, picking the length well and adjusting his footwork. Sumanth’s game is built around his defence.

Sumnath and Shoaib Mohammad (43, 145b, 5x4) added 90 vital runs in 40.1 overs for the eighth wicket in an association that frustrated Tamil Nadu further. But then, Tamil Nadu’s tactics were predictable.

BRIEF SCORECARD

Tamil Nadu 176 and 112 for 2 in 54 overs (Abhinav Mukund 54 (batting), B. Aparajith (batting) 15; Y. Prithviraj one for 25 v Andhra 309 in 123.4 overs (B. Sumanth 109, Ashwin Hebbar 64; Ravichandran Ashwin four for 71).