Tamil Nadu was sharp, clinical and ruthless; qualities that were missing earlier this season.
On display was team spirit and a cutting edge to its cricket. The spinners did the damage, the batsmen put runs on the board, and the end was swift.
Tamil Nadu crushed Railways by an innings and 164 runs at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium here on Monday, just the second day of the duel.
Going into the match, Railways had outperformed Tamil Nadu with 13 points to the hosts’ five. But then, Tamil Nadu found its mojo in this game.
Gaining a lead of 254 on day two, Tamil Nadu cut all escape routes for the Railways. T. Natarajan, the brisk left-arm seamer, struck twice with the new ball, extracting lift out of the surface.
Then senior off-spinner R. Ashwin and Sai Kishore held centre-stage. Ashwin bowled well, varying his trajectory and angles and getting bounce off the pitch; his deliveries often zipped on to hit the batsmen near the waist area.
Sai Kishore, the tall left-arm spinner, bowled with control for once and things fell into place. Given his height, he got natural bounce, spun the ball away from the right-hander and got a few deliveries to go through straight. He employed the crease well too, to alter the angles and scalped five.
And, the Tamil Nadu close-in cordon was alert, supporting the bowlers.
The Railways batsmen, save skipper Arindam Ghosh (22), could not use their feet to counter spin. And they were caught out on a track that offered turn.
Earlier, Dinesh Karthik 58 (61b, 5x4, 1x6), fell early in the morning, expecting a Harsh Tyagi delivery to spin away but the left-arm spinner’s ball held its line to rearrange the stumps.
Then, B. Indrajith, a fine player of spin who uses the depth of the crease and plays with soft hands, came up with a responsible 58 (118b, 8x4), an innings of footwork and deft touch.
For Railways, Tyagi bowled well, mixing his arm ball with the one that left the right-hander. He took five wickets.
But then, this was Tamil Nadu’s game. Abhinav Mukund was adjudged Man-of-the-Match.
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