Delhi moved into match-saving mode after Tamil Nadu’s lower-order toyed with the depleted attack to seize a formidable 124-run lead on the third and penultimate day of their Ranji Trophy league match at the Ferozeshah Kotla ground here on Thursday.
In fast-fading light, Washington Sundar brightened the team’s winning prospects with a ‘shooter’ that bowled Anuj Rawat and left Delhi reeling at 28 for one in the second innings, still trailing by 96 runs.
The day truly belonged to Tamil Nadu’s Pradosh Paul. Batting only for the seventh time in six Ranji Trophy matches since 2019, the left-hander smashed a maiden century (124, 212b, 16x4) and improved upon his previous high of 78 on debut against the same opposition in Chennai.
The overnight not-outs, Pradosh and Vijay Shankar resumed the Tamil Nadu innings at 214 for five and matched Delhi’s tally of 303 after 77 overs, when the former smashed two successive boundaries. Their 103-run stand well and truly deflated Delhi. But at this stage, soon after his 11th half-century in the competition, Vijay Shankar (52, 92b, 5x4) departed and R. Sai Kishore followed.
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Pradosh continued to feast on Delhi’s bowling in the company of Ashwin Crist. The pair added 88 runs for the eighth wicket to consolidate Tamil Nadu’s gains before Pradosh lost his off-stump to Pranshu.
But Tamil Nadu was not done yet. L. Vignesh joined Crist and the duo added another 19 runs off 17 deliveries for the ninth wicket before declaration. With poor light resulting in considerable loss of overs — 14 on Day 1, 15 on Day 2 and 20 on Day 3 — Tamil Nadu could have focussed more on stepping up the scoring rate after gaining the first innings lead. The batters’ lack of urgency and Pradosh closing in on his century, Tamil Nadu’s approach suited Delhi.
On Friday, much will depend on how Tamil Nadu bowlers perform in the first session and equally, how the Delhi top-order soaks in the pressure of avoiding a second defeat in three matches.