It was a case of so near yet so far for Tamil Nadu as it fell short by the slimmest of margins from getting an innings victory on the final day of play against Chhattisgarh in the second round Ranji Trophy match on Sunday.
After taking a 166-run lead, TN enforced the follow on and managed to get eight wickets in Chhattisgarh’s second innings but ran out of overs in the end and had to settle for three points.
Earlier, Chhattisgarh resumed at 261 for eight in its first innings and needed another 59 runs to avoid the follow on. Skipper Harpreet Singh Bhatia (170, 380b, 15x4, 2x6) and Veer Pratap Singh who frustrated the TN bowlers on day three picked up from where they left off in the first hour of play.
The duo added 83-runs for the ninth-wicket stand until Aparajith removed both the players, leg-before wicket.
TN found immediate success in the second innings when left-arm spinner M Siddharth had opener Akhil Herwadkar caught at short mid-on before Chhattisgarh steadied things till lunch.
After the break, things started to turn in TN’s favour. Aparajith struck twice in quick succession removing Ashutosh Singh -- caught at short-leg -- and Ajay Mandal, who was bowled with a delivery turning away from the left-hander.
Sai Kishore then struck immediately from the other end, having Amandeep Khare caught behind. When Siddharth had Sanidhya Hurkat caught at bat-pad, Chhattisgarh was struggling at 65 for five with 47 overs to go.
It was once again left to skipper Bhatia (43 n.o.), who along with Shashank Singh (67) blunted the TN spin attack with some sensible batting. Shashank was the aggressor in the 94-run stand taking on the spinners by hitting six boundaries and five sixes.
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Once again, TN’s inability to clean up the lower-order came to haunt it again despite skipper Vijay Shankar trying every resource at his disposal.
The slow nature of the pitch and a lack of bounce meant batting was not difficult with edges falling short of slips and the close-in fielders.
Sai Kishore and Aparajith were the most impressive bowlers on the day with the former getting some turn and bounce on odd occasions. Just as the match was heading towards a draw, Sai chipped in with two wickets, removing Shashank and Veer Pratap but by then it was too late.
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