Abhinav Mukund has fond memories of this city and the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. In October 2010, in an Irani Trophy match against Mumbai, the left-handed opening batsman made 161 and 63 and on the day the match ended, he earned his first call-up to the Indian Test team as a replacement for Gautam Gambhir.
And on Tuesday, the 29-year-old set the foundation for Tamil Nadu’s six-wicket win over Rajasthan in the Elite Group C match of Vijay Hazare trophy with a sublime knock of 75 (83b, 7x4).
Abhinav, who top-scored in this competition last year (560 runs in 9 matches), continued from where he left off, helping TN chase 262 after he and B. Aparajith (52, 67b, 2x4) put on a 114-run partnership for the second wicket.
After losing N. Jagadeesan early, the duo played simple and sensible cricket; running hard between the wickets without offering even a sniff of a chance to Rajasthan. Watchful in the first nine overs (26 for 1), TN got a boost in the 10th over with Abhinav hitting two boundaries off Khaleel Ahmed that went for 14. From there on, the two batsmen looked unperturbed in the middle with Abhinav playing his trademark leg glances and drives to the boundaries.
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TN had a minor hiccup in the middle when it lost three quick wickets (128 for 1 to 162 for four) but skipper Dinesh Karthik and M Shahrukh Khan came together with an unbroken 100-run stand and ensured it reached home with ease in the end.
Karthik — who scored the winning runs — was unbeaten on 52 (67b, 2x4). Shahrukh was unbeaten on 48 and was the initial aggressor in the partnership playing his attacking and stylish brand of cricket with crisply timed cover drives and pulls over midwicket.
Put into bat, Rajasthan made 261 for nine in its 50 overs thanks to valuable contributions from its middle and lower order. Pacer K Vignesh was the best bowler on the day (3/34). He removed Chetan Bist in his first over before accounting for the other opener Manendra Singh (lbw) in the sixth.
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Left-arm pacer Natarajan changed the angle — coming around the wicket — and found success in removing Salman Khan, bowled playing down the wrong line, before Vignesh had skipper Mahipal Lomror caught down the leg side to leave the home team at 54 for 4 in the 15th over.
Arjit Gupta’s counter-attack 77 (82b, 7x4, 3x6) and Rahul Chahar’s blitz — a 25-ball 48 (2x4, 4x6) — helped the home team post a competitive score with useful contributions from Ashok Menaria (35) and Tajinder Dhillon (29) as well.
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