Rameez Khan (87, 162b, 13x4) and Venkatesh Iyer (88, 125b, 12x4) slammed vital half-centuries and added 112-runs for the sixth wicket to power Madhya Pradesh into the driver’s seat against Tamil Nadu with a 132-run lead on day two of the Ranji Trophy clash here at the Holkar Stadium on Thursday.
The two left-handers came together when the match was evenly poised on the second morning with the home team at 84 for five after Natarajan got two quick wickets. However, their efforts ensured MP finished the day on 281 for 7 with Mihir Hirwani 54 (76b, 7x4) alongside Avesh Khan (7 n.o.).
Opener Rameez continued from where he left on the first day playing some glorious drives, especially down the ground while Venkatesh Iyer showed great application and innovation with his footwork to tackle the TN medium pacers.
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Venkatesh was not averse to walking down the track to cover the swing and was successful in his efforts as he made some quick runs in the shortened session before lunch.
The left-hander started nervously with quite a few edges finding the boundaries but at the same time punished the bad deliveries as well.
In the first session, Natarajan was the best bowler for TN moving the ball both ways but lacked support from the other end.
Shortly after lunch, Venkatesh went after the bowling hitting four boundaries in the first six overs, with the last two coming off successive deliveries against Vignesh as he got to 52 off just 56 balls.
It was here that TN let the game slip away with some listless bowling and failed to maintain a tight line and by giving too much width as the batsmen scored freely despite a defensive field.
The conditions too went against TN as the match started at 11.30 a.m. due to the solar eclipse which meant the pacers did not get a chance to exploit the early morning conditions.
Later Hirwani too feasted on some poor bowling as he slammed a quickfire half-century playing some good shots on the off-side against the medium-pacers.
Hirwani was dropped on 47 by K. Mukunth at gully off Natarajan’s bowling towards the end of the day with the ball going to the third man fence to help the batsman get to his fifty.