The manner in which most of the Tamil Nadu batters went about their business, it appeared as if they needed to achieve the target of 203 in 40 overs, when they had as many as 64 overs.
Tamil Nadu’s eight-run defeat at the hands of Andhra in the Ranji Trophy duel at the Ramakrishna College ground will go down as one of its worst setbacks.
And the inept pacing of the innings was a major factor in the defeat.
Apart from the resilient Washington Sundar and skipper B. Indrajith, none of the batters displayed the application needed against a disciplined Andhra attack on a fourth day pitch that offered some assistance but was by no means unplayable.
While the pitch, with good bounce and carry, gradually assisted the spinners, the sporting surface also encouraged the batters to play their strokes.
Despite holding the aces, the host managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. A side coasting to a win at 155 for three stumbled so badly that it ended up losing.
Indrajith (43) was adjudged leg-before to off-spinner Shoaib Md. Khan. He suggested he had nicked the ball but in the absence of technology, there was no proof. Similarly, in Andhra’s second innings, Hanuma Vihari was ruled out caught behind on the leg-side when he indicated that he had not edged.
After the fall of Indrajith, Tamil Nadu had two more specialist batters in Vijay Shankar and Pradosh Ranjan Paul and less than 50 runs to get.
Vijay Shankar, with minimal footwork, spooned a return catch to Shoaib, and Pradosh Ranjan’s attempted hook at paceman K.V. Sasikanth had disastrous consequences. Both batters had succumbed to pressure.
From 155 for three, Tamil Nadu was 158 for six and an entirely different scenario was on hand. The match had become a humdinger when it should have been an easy picking for the host.
All along, the left-handed Washington (65) was batting with grace, elegance and responsibility in a stressful situation. All he needed was support.
Sai Kishore has some batting credentials but was foxed by Shoaib. Tamil Nadu was 163 for seven.
The solid and composed Washington collected runs with minimum risks - only Ajith Ram lent him some support.
But with only the last man, Sandeep Warrier, for company, Washington was forced to go for a fatal pull shot.
Several questions can be asked. With N. Jagadeesan in such fine form, why did he go hell for leather at the top of the order. He should have built an innings with common sense batting.
B. Aparajith too could have constructed his innings instead of launching into a flurry of shots.
Sai Sudharsan sparkled during his innings of 37 but should have kicked on to a bigger score.
With only the first innings lead against Hyderabad and then going down to Andhra [two of the weaker teams in Elite Group ‘B’], Tamil Nadu has a mountain to climb for qualification.