Ranji Trophy: I wanted to play according to the merit of the ball, says B. Aparajith

B. Aparajith, who featured in a 59-run third wicket partnership with B. Indrajith, feels the collapse may have been averted had the two of them stuck on till lunch.

Tamil Nadu's day could have been worse if it hadn’t kept itself afloat via dogged batting from the twins.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Seamers on the rampage, and the cold weather unsettling. When B. Aparajith and B. Indrajith came out to bat, their team was struggling at 7 for 2, in difficult circumstances. Tamil Nadu did eventually capitulate to what was a persistent, disciplined effort from Himachal’s fast bowlers, but it could have been worse if it hadn’t kept itself afloat via dogged batting from the twins.

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

Dogged defence

The first hour was especially difficult. There were numerous plays and misses, and the packed in-field made a lot of noise. At the end of the day’s play, Aparajith revealed, “The odd ball was moving around, and it was bouncing a lot. When I came in to bat, I just wanted to play according to the merit of the ball.”

Runs came in a trickle. The opening bowlers – Arpit Guleria and Pankaj Jaswal - were especially hard to score off. With dogged defence and a calm mindset, the duo went about staging the recovery.

Amid the ubiquitous solid defence off the back foot, there was also the odd boundary. Experienced seamer Rishi Dhawan was loose early on, and a few boundaries were scored off his full deliveries.

Despite having resisted for 23.3 overs, it seems the two were still not set, as against the run of play, Indrajith was out bowled. Dinesh Karthik, the new batsman, had lots of plays and misses, and two loud lbw shouts.

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If the brothers had stuck around for some more time, the middle-order collapse may not have ensued, felt Aparajith. He said, “The situation would have been different, maybe, if we had survived until lunch. [Indrajith’s] dismissal was a bit of a surprise.”

Making use of the new ball

Runs seemed easier to come by after lunch. Aparajith milked the bowlers around alongside Karthik, but soon after reaching his half-century, he slashed at a wide delivery, perhaps hoping for a bit of indulgence after a long period of dour defence. And he paid the price, the edge snaffled by A. R. Kumar at second slip.

This time, too, there was to be a comeback. Abhishek Tanwar (44, 82b, 5X4), in the second first-class match of his career, took advantage of the tiring seam attack and rallied with the rest of the lower-order batsmen to add what could be crucial runs for his side.

Aparajith praised his effort. “This was his first knock in a Ranji Trophy match. It will give him a lot of confidence,” he said.

It has also added confidence to the Tamil Nadu side. When the team took the field, the fast bowlers were pepped up and the in-fielders were loud and encouraging. Opener Prashant Chopra was dismissed in the five overs bowled before stumps.

“[On Day Two], we hope to make use of the new ball and bowl them out quickly, to take a lead. That is our first target,” Aparajith reassuringly said.