Ranji Trophy: Ankit, Raghav lead strong Himachal effort

An enterprising knock from middle-order batsman Ankit Kalsi (99 n.o., 138b, 15X4), and a staid, stoic effort from opener Raghav Dhawan (71, 191b, 11X4) helped Himachal claim the crucial first-innings lead on the second day of its Ranji Trophy contest against Tamil Nadu.

The wickets were harder to come by for Tamil Nadu’s seamers, as Himachal batsmen made merry.   -  akhilesh kumar

An enterprising knock from middle-order batsman Ankit Kalsi (99 n.o., 138b, 15X4), and a staid, stoic effort from opener Raghav Dhawan (71, 191b, 11X4) helped Himachal claim the crucial first-innings lead on the second day of its Ranji Trophy contest against Tamil Nadu.

Towards the end of the day, Rishi Dhawan scored an attacking half-century (71 n.o., 82b,13X4) against a tiring attack to help take the lead to 113 runs, by close.

Taking a leaf out of its opposition’s books, and trying to make use of the helpful conditions, fast bowlers M. Mohammed, T. Natarajan, Abhishek Tanwar and Vijay Shankar toiled for much of the day.

As it happened: Ranji Trophy 2018-19: Round 7, Day 2 Highlights

Leather hunt

The wickets were, however, harder to come by for Tamil Nadu’s seamers, as compared to Himachal’s on Day One.

Plays and misses, and caught-behind and lbw shouts were numerous. Wickets arrived, too, but not in clutches. Moreover, the loose deliveries did not go unpunished; Gangta and Kalsi, in particular, punished deliveries pitched up, or short and wide.

And when the spinners were in operation, in the final session, Kalsi and Rishi Dhawan made hay. Admitted Natarajan, the left-arm seamer, after the day’s play, “Once the sun was shining brightly, there was no swing whatsoever, making it difficult for us.”

Natarajan had begun the day well for his side, when the ball was moving around; No. 3 G. K. Singh was dismissed caught behind. The fielders were loud and chirpy, and the fast bowlers were making the ball talk. Yet, it took more than an hour and a bowling change for the second wicket of the day to fall.

Ankush Bains, who had been shaky in his short innings, was dismissed bowled by Tanwar, the right-arm seamer. Tanwar toiled away the rest of the day, bowling at pace, and back-of-a-length, to try and test the batsmen. But he found no more success.

Dhawan makes merry

Dhawan found a good partner in Gangta, who stood out with his stylish cuts and drives that he executed occasionally. On one occasion, he collected three boundaries in an over from Tanwar; all three of his strokes were picture-perfect – two off-drives (through extra-cover and long-off) and a square cut.

Gangta departed soon after lunch, after a partnership of 74 runs, dismissed caught-behind off Mohammed. Any hopes of triggering a collapse soon disappeared as the left-handed Kalsi took over as the aggressor, playing many sweetly-timed wristy flicks off the seamers.

By the time left-arm spinner R. Sai Kishore came in to bowl, to give rest to the fast bowlers, the tables had turned. Kalsi continued his dominant role post the tea-break; he continued in the same vein after the dismissal of Raghav, who fell lbw to Natarajan after his long vigil.

Rishi Dhawan, the new batsman, joined the party. Alongside Kalsi, he plundered the tired bowling attack. The first-innings lead having been taken, and the team innings far from being finished, the advantage well and truly lies with their side.

BRIEF SCORES

At Dharamsala: Tamil Nadu 227 v Himachal Pradesh 340 for five in 88 overs (Raghav Dhawan 71, Nikhil Gangta 43, Ankit Kalsi 99, Rishi Dhawan 71 batting).