Vijay Hazare Trophy: Maharashtra drubs TN to remain unbeaten

Tamil Nadu took the field without skipper Vijay Shankar, troubled by a back pain. B. Indrajith led the side well and got the best out of the bowlers to restrict Maharashtra’s in-form batting line. The target of 271, however, proved beyond Tamil Nadu’s reach despite the middle-order trying its best. In the ultimate analysis, the knock of 82 by opener Ruturaj Gaikwad proved precious for Maharashtra.

After the batsmen delivered the goods, Shrikant Mundhe picked up four wickets to help Maharashtra down Tamil Nadu.   -  File photo: Vivek Bendre

 

Maharashtra kept its record of being unbeaten intact with a 22-run win over Tamil Nadu in a Vijay Hazare Trophy natch here. In a crucial match at the DRIEMS ground at Tangi, Maharashtra handed Tamil Nadu its first defeat and in the process, qualified for the knockout to be held at Delhi from March 13.

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With four wins and matches against Uttar Pradesh and Tripura in hand, Maharashtra can afford to take things easy, while Tamil Nadu needs victories from its remaining encounters against Kerala and Tripura.

Akshdeep ton guides UP to victory

Tamil Nadu took the field without skipper Vijay Shankar, troubled by a back pain. B. Indrajith led the side well and got the best out of the bowlers to restrict Maharashtra’s in-form batting line. The target of 271, however, proved beyond Tamil Nadu’s reach despite the middle order trying its best. In the ultimate analysis, the knock of 82 by opener Ruturaj Gaikwad proved precious for Maharashtra.

Gaikwad is 30, and has just played one first-class match and one T20 game. In three List A contests, his scoring sequence has been 9, 79 and 132. He maintained his consistency with a 76-ball 82 that contained nine fours and two sixes. His pattern of strokeplay, hitting in front or square of the wicket, was not dictated by the line and length of the ball. His range was wide and allowed him the freedom to take chances against the Tamil Nadu bowlers.

The cheap dismissals of Vijay Zol (18) and Ankit Bawne (18) did not shackle Gaikwad’s intent to bat freely. His form was evident in the quick positioning of feet as Gaikwad dominated the Tamil Nadu bowlers. In the company of Kedar Jadhav, he revelled by trying to match the aggressive approach of his skipper. The Tamil Nadu attack felt the pressure before the breakthrough came in the shape of Jadhav’s wicket, who was foxed by left-arm spinner Rahil Shah.

Inspired by Jadhav’s wicket, Tamil Nadu looked to dry the flow of runs and the strategy paid when Gaikwad was trapped leg-before. It was a crucial strike by seamer Anthony Dhas and put a halt to the pace that Maharashtra had maintained. It was left to Naushad Shaikh to keep up the momentum set by Gaikwad and Jadhav. Shaikh did well to keep the strike and hit three fours and three sixes in his 66-ball knock.

Maharashtra, however, failed to cross the 300-mark for the first time in four matches, having made 376, 311 and 367 in its previous outings. For Tamil Nadu, the major share of wickets went to M. Mohammed (two for 36), Rahil Shah (two for 53) and Aswin Crist (two for 70).

The Tamil Nadu chase never took wing since G. S. Raju (37), Kaushik Gandhi (38), B. Aparajith (26) and Indrajith could not finish the job they had started with a flourish. The planning was missing in the Tamil Nadu camp in this match and a late charge by M. Mohammed failed to stop Maharashtra’s progress to the next round.