Himachal blows Tamil Nadu away

Prashant Chopra’s unbeaten 68 guides Himachal Pradesh to a seven-wicket win against R.Ashwin’s side in the Syed Mushtaq Ali T20 fixture on Wednesday.

Tamil Nadu captain R. Ashwin remained wicketless in his four overs for 38 runs; with the bat, he scored 14 off 16 balls.   -  FILE PHOTO/VIJAY SONEJI

In a flat, listless display, defending a combative 138 on a tricky pitch where the ball gripped, Tamil Nadu went down by seven wickets to Himachal Pradesh in a Group `B’ match of the Syed Mushtaq Ali competition here on Wednesday.

With only eight points in four games and a below par run-rate of - 0.644, Tamil Nadu’s chances of qualification are bleak. The side has a serious issue with consistency.

The tactics were baffling too. On a surface where there was turn and inconsistent bounce, it was intriguing why skipper R. Ashwin sent down so many deliveries of leg-spin, going for runs in the process.

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Tamil Nadu, at crunch time, required its skipper to bowl what he does best — precise off-spin with turn, bounce and drift. Ashwin went for 38 in his four overs, without picking a wicket.

In contrast, Washington Sundar sent four tight overs of off-spin for 19 runs. And paceman Abhishek Tanwar contained and struck. A parsimonious spell from Ashwin could have put Himachal under pressure.

To make matters worse, N.S. Chaturved, at extra cover, dropped a sitter to reprieve Prashant Chopra, on 42 then, when the opener miscued left-arm spinner Sai Kishore. The lapse summed up Tamil Nadu’s day.

Chopra, using his feet and striking the ball fluently, remained unbeaten on 68 (53b, 4x4, 2x6). There was a touch of elegance in the manner he found the gaps.

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Ekant Sen struck the ball handsomely too during his 35 and Rishi Dhawan delivered the big blows in his 11-ball unbeaten 22.

Earlier, M. Vijay’s pleasing 58-ball 77 (10x4, 1x6) was an innings of poise, balance and cultured strokeplay. He was light on his feet, timing the ball through the open spaces. Some of Vijay’s straight-hits and off-drives underlined quality.

But then, the rest of the Tamil Nadu batting came unstuck against a disciplined Himachal attack in which left-arm spinner Mayank Dagar was the pick, conceding just 10 runs in his four overs while scalping Ashwin.

Tamil Nadu did not get its batting order right. The in-form Washington should have opened and sending Sai as a pinch hitter at No. 3 was a needless ploy. And the supposedly big-hitter, R. Vivek, walked in at No. 9 and failed to open his account. The role definition has to be clear.

Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 138 for nine in 20 overs (M. Vijay 77, Ankit Maine three for 29, Kanwar Abhinay two for 30) lost to Himachal Pradesh 139 for three in 19 overs (Prashant Chopra 68 not out, Ekant Sen 35, Abhishek Tanwar two for 14).

Points: Himachal 4, Tamil Nadu