Dinesh Karthik (95, 153b, 15x4) and Kaushik Gandhi (71 batting) stitched a 144-run stand for the fourth-wicket as Tamil Nadu came from behind to register a decent 262 for four against Madhya Pradesh on the opening day of the Group 'A' Ranji Trophy clash at the DRIEMS College grounds here on Thursday.
The partnership came at a time when the chips were down for the team. The MP skipper Devendra Bundela called the coin right and chose to bowl on a pitch that had some swing and sting on it. He was also quite confident of his bowlers. It seemed a good decision as Tamil Nadu lost two quick wickets in the space of two overs with only a run on the card.
Washington Sundar was trapped leg before by the in-form medium pacer Ishwar Pandey in only the second ball of the day. The TN skipper Abhinav Mukund followed him soon after. He fell to a delivery that carried a bit and spooned an easy catch to Mukul Raghav at gully. And, paceman Ashwin Das rejoiced as he knew it was a prized catch.
Abhinav, no doubt, is the most celebrated cricketer of the TN side. His early dismissal did bring in a pall of gloom to the dressing room. But Vijay Shankar (41, 41b), who is returning to the side for the first time this season, played with authority.
He handled the pacemen with aplomb and hammered some memorable shots on both sides of the ground. Despite the injury layoff, Vijay showed no rust with his bat. His touch was so sure and his timing and range of shots so secure that MP searched for an answer.
Kaushik gave the ambitious Vijay the kind of company that could build the confidence of any cricketer. And, the duo hoisted the fifty-run partnership even before the first break.
Vijay's contribution was 40 and he had seven well-timed hits to the fence. But just when TN appeared to be in a sort of safe zone after the twin strike, Vijay departed to a well-disguised delivery from Chandrakant Sakure soon after the break. The former flashed his bat to a ball that moved away and offered a regulation catch to Subham Sharma at first slip.
From there, the experienced Karthik and Kaushik guided the team to safety.
The post lunch session saw both batsmen in full flow and the century partnership between the two followed soon. It was getting bigger too when pacer Sakure applied the brakes when Karthik edged him to Bundela at slips. He clearly was disappointed not to have posted his second century of the season.
But a determined Kaushik, who played with a lot of patience and perseverance right through carried on the job with B. Indrajith (44 batting) for the team.
N. Jagadeesan (Coimbatore), the Tamil Nadu Premier League's (TNPL) top run-getter, after sitting out for three matches, finally got the big break to play for Tamil Nadu.
Other results (Group A):
Results (Group B):
Results (Group C):
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