Ranji Trophy: Himachal seamers impress, as Tamil Nadu batsmen falter

With opener Prashant Chopra having fallen and the new ball due, however, Himachal awaits a strong retaliation by Tamil Nadu’s T. Natarajan & Co. In the five overs negotiated before stumps, Himachal was 25 for 1.

Tamil Nadu batsman Dinesh Karthik has his stumps rearranged by Himachal seamer Arpit Guleria.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Himachal seamers made good use of nippy conditions and a pacy track to bowl Tamil Nadu out for 227 on the first day of an Elite Group ‘B’ Ranji Trophy contest at the HPCA Stadium here on Friday.

With opener Prashant Chopra having fallen and the new ball due, however, Himachal awaits a strong retaliation by Tamil Nadu’s T. Natarajan & Co. In the five overs negotiated before stumps, Himachal was 25 for 1.

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As seamer Arpit Guleria stated after the day’s play, “The first session [on Day Two] will be crucial for us.”

With the ball, Guleria and his counterparts were relentless in effort and accuracy and bent their back for most of the day to reap rich rewards.

Judgment would have to be reserved on who held the decisive advantage until both teams have batted on what seems a challenging pitch, but Himachal, at the end of a fruitful day in the field, would be the more confident outfit.

Guleria, Pankaj Jaswal and Raghav Dhawan, all right-arm fast bowlers, scythed through the Tamil Nadu batting. The trio took seven wickets between them, with Jaswal the most successful, with three wickets. They operated on a nagging length – neither too short nor too full.

Twins resist but Himachal fights back

Tamil Nadu’s top-order was rattled early. Openers Abhinav Mukund and N. Jagadeesan were dismissed cheaply; Abhinav nicked Jaswal behind for 0 and Jagadeesan was trapped lbw for 3.

A spirited recovery ensued as captain B. Indrajith and B. Aparajith, put together a patient partnership of 59 runs. There were plays and misses, and the odd lbw shout, but the duo were content to defend solidly off the back foot and nudge the ball around for the odd single. That they were set in the middle at any time could not be said, however.

Eventually, Raghav Dhawan, the fourth seamer, put an end to the partnership. Indrajith’s off-stump went cartwheeling as he misjudged a delivery from the bowler.

The team’s struggles were far from over, however, with accomplished batsman Dinesh Karthik playing scratchily.

Karthik survived two loud lbw shouts and hardly middled a delivery until the final over of the first session when he played a square drive. He looked more settled after lunch; a punch off the back-foot for a boundary through point was especially stylish. However, it was a false dawn as soon after, he inside-edged the persistent Guleria on to his stumps.

Aparajith had similarly departed against the run of play. Soon after reaching his half-century, he slashed at a wide delivery from Jaswal and was caught in the slips.

When Vijay Shankar tamely chipped Raghav Dhawan to cover, the rot had been truly set.

The tail wagged a bit towards the last third of the day. Abhishek Tanwar was especially enterprising as he capitalised on the few loose pickings. The late introduction of spinners was also a boon.

Struggling at one point at 130 for 6, Tamil Nadu recovered to post 227.

Brief Scores

At Dharamsala: Tamil Nadu 227 in 78.4 overs (B. Aparajith 53, Abhishek Tanwar 44) vs. Himachal Pradesh 25 for one in five overs; Toss: Tamil Nadu.