Vijay Hazare: Dinesh Karthik powers TN to big win

Dinesh Karthik took the Delhi attack by its scruff and forced it into submission as Tamil Nadu won its opening match of the Vijay Hazare cricket tournament at the Barabati Stadium here on Saturday by 42 runs.

Karthik was a delight. His footwork was the key as he got into the best position to take on the Delhi attack.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Dinesh Karthik took the Delhi attack by its scruff and forced it into submission as Tamil Nadu won its opening match of the Vijay Hazare cricket tournament at the Barabati Stadium here on Saturday by 42 runs. His 118 off 97 balls with 13 fours and three sixes left Delhi smarting under a clinical assault even though the latter made a valiant chase through Milind Kumar’s effort of 64.

Karthik was a delight. His footwork was the key as he got into the best position to take on the Delhi attack. He treated Nehra with respect but did not spare the rest, often picking the line and finding the gaps. He did not lose time in assessing the surface and judging the pace of the pitch.

The experience of giving his best under pressure helped Karthik plan his knock. He had few anxious moments and his attractive range of strokes made the job of setting a field to him tough for the young Rishabh Pant, leading the team for the first time.

Time and again Pant relied on the guidance of Nehra, who suggested field settings and bowling changes too. Nehra bowled steady and tight spells, commanding attention with his stifling length. His constant variation of line probed the Tamil Nadu batsmen and kept Delhi in the game.

Tamil Nadu openers Kaushik Gandhi and G. S. Raju showed scant respect for the Delhi bowlers. Navdeep Saini and Pradeep Sangwan made no impact on the opponents while left-arm spinner Pawan Negi looked the most ordinary of the bowlers on view. For Delhi, relief came in the shape of the hard-working Manan Sharma, who bowled a steady line to reap three wickets. But for Manan’s spell, and of course the wily Nehra, Delhi would have conceded far more runs than what it did eventually.

Karthik’s delightful show did push the decent work of Gandhi and Raju into the background but the opening stand of 76 runs set the course of the match. Delhi floundered repeatedly and gave away runs through boundaries as Tamil Nadu never eased its grip on the contest. It was paramount for Tamil Nadu to cross the 300-mark and create a challenging chase for Delhi.

Delhi needed a big opening stand since the seasoned Gautam Gambhir and Shikhar Dhawan promised a fight. It was not to be. Dhawan failed to convince and Gambhir flattered to deceive, his half century effort notwithstanding. Pant looked to hit his way out of trouble but perished in the outfield to a pull shot.

Tamil Nadu was rewarded for its discipline in the field. The bowlers complemented the batsmen and the overall fielding kept Delhi under pressure with the exception of Milind Kumar.

At the DRIEMS ground, Maharashtra, propelled by Ruturaj Gaikwad’s 132 off 112 balls (12 fours and seven sixes), overcame Himachal Pradesh by 25 runs.