On the eve of the festival of lights, the lack of sufficient brightness hurt Tamil Nadu. The sound of early Diwali fireworks could be heard inside the stadium but silence ruled for the most part in the middle.
On a final day of darkness and cloud cover, only 34 overs could be completed – eight in the morning and 26 after lunch – in the Tamil Nadu – Tripura group ‘C’ Ranji duel at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.
The host declared at overnight 357 for four on Tuesday – a lead of 99. And when the frustrated Tamil Nadu cricketers walked out for the last time owing to bad light, Tripura was 91 for three.
Tamil Nadu moved in for the kill but as many as 147 overs were lost on the day three and four. It had to be content with three points (it has four from two), while Tripura (two from two) took home one.
In the morning, left-arm spinner Rahil Shah removed openers Bishal Ghosh – held at slip by B. Indrajith – and Udiyan Bose – caught smartly by R. Ashwin at mid-wicket. Given the nature of light, only the spinners bowled.
When play resumed at 1:13 p.m., off-spinner Washington Sundar turned one in from just outside off to have Rajesh Banik (19) snapped up by Kaushik Gandhi at short-leg.
Tamil Nadu could have put Tripura under more pressure earlier but Banik (on two) was grassed by Abhinav Mukund at slip off Ashwin. Then, the nimble-footed Smit Patel (35 not out) successfully took up the challenge of lofting left-arm spinners Rahil and Sai Kishore against the spin – the mid-wicket was left vacant to lay a trap.
The experienced Yashpal Singh (11 not out) made subtle but effective adjustments to his back-lift as he combated the spinners. Being covered and deprived of sunlight, the pitch did not deteriorate. To extract turn and bounce on this track, a spinner had to flight and someone like Sai Kishore will learn from more games.
Ashwin bowled without luck. Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar said, “He is bowling well. It’s only a matter of time before he picks more wickets.” Tamil Nadu has a hard road ahead for qualification – it takes on Mumbai and Odisha (both away) and then Baroda and Madhya Pradesh (at home).
“It’s going to be tough but if we play to our potential, we should be through,” Kanitkar said.
M. Vijay would be fit for the next game against Mumbai but the side was awaiting the report on paceman T. Natarajan’s recovery. From now on, Tamil Nadu will need to play each game with the mindset of a knock-out match.
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