Dinesh Karthik displayed his class yet again and Shahrukh Khan put his head down to help Tamil Nadu register a hat-trick of wins, with a 38-run victory, in the Vijay Hazare Trophy Group E on Wednesday.
Karthik’s quickfire 68 (51b, 9x4, 2x6) and his 75-run partnership for the seventh wicket with Shahrukh (31, 29b, 2x4, 1x6) bailed Tamil Nadu out of trouble at the Sharad Pawar Cricket Academy ground.
TN’s in-form bowling quartet - led by T. Natarajan - then defended a total of 160 on a bowler-friendly track yet again to bundle Baroda out for 124 to help Tamil Nadu keep a clean slate in the group.
Had it not been for Karthik’s and Shahrukh’s association, Tamil Nadu would have found it difficult to get its bowlers into action. When Shahrukh joined Karthik in the 16th over, Tamil Nadu was staring down the barrel at 52 for six.
Lukman Meriwala, the left-arm swinger, had run through the Tamil Nadu top order. The seasoned Meriwala exploited the conditions to perfection to yet again expose the frailties of TN batters in negotiating the movement and bounce.
In slightly easing conditions, despite the spinners also coming into the game, Karthik and Shahrukh rotated the strike for a while before Karthik targeted Bhargav Bhatt’s left-arm spin. The 31st over saw him tonk 23 runs, with the sequence reading 0, 6, 6, 4, 3, 4.
A sweep shot over the square leg fence meant Bhatt pulled the length back and Karthik was quick to dispatch the next ball over the midwicket fence. The next ball was fuller and Karthik cleared the mid-on for a one-bounced four. The next one was steered through the vacant slip region for three followed by another sweep for a four.
Had Karthik not missed one from Ninad Rathwa - the other left-arm spinner with Baroda captain Krunal Pandya continuing to be sidelined due to a back spasm - in the next over, Tamil Nadu would have inched closer to 200.
Natarajan then rattled the Baroda top order, with the chasing side reeling at 42 for four at the lunch break. Soon after the break, when Natarajan ran in from long-off to take an excellent catch to dismiss stand-in captain Vishnu Solanki, the writing was clear on the wall.
The spin duo of Varun Chakaravarthy and R. Sai Kishore folded up the tail in no time.
Had it not been for Bhatt’s three huge sixes, including two off Sai Kishore off successive balls before being dismissed, the victory margin would have been much bigger for Tamil Nadu.
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