Sai Sudharsan laid the foundation with a fluent century. Captain Dinesh Karthik played the role of a finisher to perfection. T. Natarajan and Sandeep Warrier employed the short-ball ploy with the new ball. And R. Sai Kishore and Baba Aparajith’s spin came in handy.
As a result, K.V. Siddharth’s late charge for Goa could only reduce the margin of defeat for Goa as Tamil Nadu started its Vijay Hazare Trophy campaign with a 33-run win at the Dadoji Konddev Stadium.
With the big-ticket action returning to Thane and a plethora of India and IPL stars in action, the weekend game saw a decent turnaround in the gallery. And the 1,000-odd fans were treated to an all-round display of action, largely dominated by the Tamil Nadu pacers.
When Lakshay Garg, having missed the opener due to a bout of viral infection, trapped N. Jagadeesan in front of the wickets in the fourth over and Arjun Tendulkar lunged forward to accept Sai Kishore’s (promoted to see off the new ball) return catch, Tamil Nadu had been reduced to 16 for two. Goa’s decision to let its pacers exploit early moisture was working.
However, Sai Sudharsan came to the party with Aparajith looking in good touch. The duo’s 90-run stand resurrected the innings before Aparajith was adjudged lbw off captain Darshan Misal’s left-arm spin.
At 137 for three in 30 overs, and Tamil Nadu having the luxury of an additional batter, Vijay Shankar - recovering from a stomach bug - started upping the ante. While he and Baba Indrajith’s cameos helped move the scoreboard faster, Sai Sudharsan was at his effortless best.
While he cover drove with finesse, it was a pull off a rare long-hop by Mohit Redkar’s impressive offie in the 38th over that helped him reach the milestone.
Karthik’s 31-ball 47 meant Tamil Nadu added 87 runs and took the game beyond Goa’s reach. The veteran was severe on Tendulkar at the death, tonking the left-arm pacer for 25 runs off the 11 balls he faced in the 48th and 50th overs combined.
Natarajan and Warrier then bowled near-perfect short balls to entice opener Ishaan Gadekar and No. 3 Suyash Prabhudessai into aerial pulls in the deep. When the dangerous Rahul Tripathi slog-swept Aparajith, the game was in the bag.
At 167 for six in the 38th over, with Sai Kishore and Aparajith having strangulated the middle order, Tamil Nadu was staring at a big win. However, Siddharth’s delightful knock meant Tamil Nadu leaked 89 runs in the last 10 overs before sealing the game.
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