Ranji Trophy: TN manages lead on thrilling day

Lower-order batsmen Aswin Crist and K. Vignesh played crucial cameos to take Tamil Nadu past Bengal's first-innings score on a thrilling third day of the Ranji Trophy Group A clash in Rajkot.

K. Vignesh scored a crucial 30 at No. 10 for Tamil Nadu.   -  S. Dipak Ragav

In a nail-biting final session of play, Dinesh Karthik’s 80 and crucial cameos from pacers Aswin Crist and K. Vignesh helped Tamil Nadu (TN) take the crucial first innings-lead against Bengal on Day Three of its Group A Ranji Trophy clash here on Tuesday.

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After a solid start, TN lost its way as Bengal pacer Sayan Ghosh took crucial wickets to reduce TN to 237 for six before Crist and Karthik steadied the ship. But after taking the second new ball in the 88th over, Amit Kuila struck immediately to dismiss Karthik caught behind to leave TN in deep trouble with the score reading 281 for seven with 56 runs behind Bengal’s total.

That was until pacer Vignesh, playing in his debut season, showed nerves of steel, scoring an unbeaten 30 off just 38 balls with three fours and a six along with T. Natarajan to help TN take the lead.

Joining Crist, Vignesh played second fiddle to the former who was striking the ball cleanly. Once Crist was dismissed, Vignesh took charge along with Natarajan, who hit a crucial boundary down the ground when the field was brought in to help level the scores. The 38-run unbeaten partnership for the last wicket took TN to 348 for nine at stumps.

Run out triggers collapse

Earlier in the day, resuming at 60 for one, TN had an easy opening hour as skipper Abhinav Mukund and Kaushik Gandhi scored freely, finding the boundaries regularly, as the duo put on a 100-run partnership for the second wicket. It was here TN slipped first when a mix-up between Abhinav and Gandhi resulted in the former being run out.

The TN skipper came down the wicket to off-spinner Amir Gani, pushed the ball to short-midwicket and started running. Gandhi responded initially but immediately backed out of it after taking a few steps as Agniv Pan calmly sent his throw to the keeper to effect an easy run out. Gandhi and Indrajith had a decent partnership going before left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha dismissed the former caught behind for 65 as TN went into lunch at 172 for three.

Post lunch, Karthik and Indrajith started off well before Ghosh got into a good spell, dismissing Indrajith and Aparajith in quick succession. Jagadeesan fell soon, hitting a full toss from Ojha straight to the short-midwicket fielder as Bengal tried to force a comeback.

Karthik, who has already played crucial innings this season, showed his experience as he farmed the strike even as he slowly went about reducing the deficit along with Crist, who cleared the ropes couple of times to ease the pressure. Karthik was given a reprieve on 46 when Bengal skipper Manoj Tiwary dropped an easy one at mid-off which in the end proved costly.