If there was a penalty for indifferent shots, the Tamil Nadu team management would have filled up its coffers on Thursday. Rocked by the Punjab seamers on a lively pitch, Tamil Nadu, put in, finished the opening day of the Ranji Trophy match at 213 for nine, self-inflicting much of the damage.

The lack of discipline in the batting ranks saw Tamil Nadu suffer on a day when Vijay Shankar displayed an exemplary commitment to the team’s cause. Arriving barely six hours before the start of the match, Shankar crafted a brilliant 71 off 122 balls with seven fours before falling to an indiscreet stroke – holing out to mid-off.

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Making good form count

“The shot was on,” insisted Shankar, who had applied himself well until that moment when he took on Manpreet Gony with the new ball. “It was a different pitch with the old and new ball. I was enjoying the sound of the bat when playing the old ball but I concentrated on holding my end. It was a good challenge out there. The shot was on but the ball stopped a bit,” said Shankar.

Shankar extended his good form from the New Zealand tour where he prospered as a batsman. “The New Zealand bowlers bounced the ball a lot but I loved the challenge. I am glad I did really well there,” said Shankar, who adapted to the conditions here in quick time to rescue Tamil Nadu from a precarious situation.

Patience was the key on this pitch where the technique was also paramount for survival. Shankar, Dinesh Karthik and B. Aparajith battled it out to save Tamil Nadu more embarrassment. Shankar, Karthik and Shahrukh Khan, however, would rue the strokes that cost them the wicket.

For Gony, it was a tremendous comeback to the Punjab team after being dropped a year ago despite a decent show against Services. “I was sad when I was dropped after I had taken five wickets in an innings and I am glad I have taken five on my comeback. I did feel the pressure to perform but I can claim that I am still the best (in Punjab). I had to prove myself and I am happy I have,” said Gony.