Vijay Hazare Trophy: Tamil Nadu tops the group with a win

The Tamil Nadu top order shared the burden of pushing the run-rate to ultimately achieve the objective of 300-plus. The left-handed G. S. Raju was the pick of the batsmen and came up with an innings that show-cased his wide range of shots.

Dinesh Karthik's 81 off 63 balls contained 11 fours and two sixes.   -  K. V. S. Giri

Tamil Nadu took its appointed place in the knockout stage of the Vijay Hazare cricket tournament with a 262–run victory over Tripura at the DRIEMS cricket ground here on Monday.

With five wins in six matches – the defeat coming against Maharashtra – Tamil Nadu took the top slot in the group. After fine knocks by Dinesh Karthik (81) and G. S. Raju (77) the Tamil Nadu team cruised through good work by Aswin Crist (five for 29), M. Mohammed (two for 15) and R. Rohit (two for 23).

The focus was clearly on out-batting Tripura which preferred to bowl first on a warm day. Shot-making was a judicious task on a pitch where the ball came on nicely. Tripura banked on Abhijit Sarkar and Ajoy Sarkar, but the trusted seamers did not make an impact.

The Tamil Nadu top order shared the burden of pushing the run-rate to ultimately achieve the objective of 300-plus. The left-handed G. S. Raju was the pick of the batsmen and came up with an innings that show-cased his wide range of shots.

The diminutive Raju took over the dominant role even as partners Kaushik Gandhi (36 off four fours and a six) and B. Aparajith (41 with five fours and a six) looked to match his strokeplay. Raju, however, was far more composed than the rest.

The opening partnership of 71 between Gandhi and Raju set the tone for the innings to be launched on a positive note. Raju and Aparajith maintained the run-flow in a 95-run stand for the second wicket before the inform Dinesh Karthik and skipper Vijay Shankar got into the act.

Shankar and Karthik’s association was worth 118 in the decisive phase of the match. Karthik hardly played a hurried stroke and Shankar lost his wicket when looking good for much more. Karthik’s 81 off 63 balls contained 11 fours and two sixes while Shankar hit two fours and a six in his 32-ball essay.

For Tripura, it was imperative that the team got a flourishing start but three quick blows by Aswin Crist put Tamil Nadu on its desired course. Crist continued to revel with his accuracy and once again underlined his importance in the team with a five-wicket haul. “He is a wicket-taking bowler in all formats,” coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar had observed. Crist lived up to his reputation.

The probing line that Crist struck induced adventurous strokes from the Tripura batsmen but it was not going to work against an opposition that had done its homework well. The one-sided contest reaffirmed Tamil Nadu’s excellent performance in this leg of the tournament. “A collective show to the core,” Kanitkar signed off.

The scores:

Tamil Nadu: 337 for eight in 50 overs (Dinesh Karthik 81, G. S. Raju 77, B. Aparajith 41, Kaushik Gandhi 36, Vijay Shankar 32, M. Mohammed 30, Udiyan Bose four for 73) beat Tripura: 75 in 18.2 overs (Aswin Crist five for 29) by 262 runs.

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