Tamil Nadu mauled Madhya Pradesh by 211 runs to notch up its eighth win in as many matches in the Vijay Hazare Trophy tournament at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Saturday.
It was yet another well-nigh flawless display from a talented team in top form, led by India international Dinesh Karthik.
Put into bat, Tamil Nadu posted 360 for four, riding on a magnificent hundred from Abhinav Mukund, a well-made 90 from Vijay Shankar and a breathtaking 28-ball 65 from captain Karthik.
The job was then completed, well in time, by the bowlers. The Madhya Pradesh innings lasted just 28.4 overs.
Earlier, the second-wicket stand of 185 between Abhinav (147, 139b, 17x4, 2x6) and Vijay Shankar (90, 93b, 7x4, 2x6) had more or less settled the issue. If Madhya Pradesh still fancied any chances after their dismissals, Karthik ensured there was none.
The loss of two wickets – Murali Vijay and Baba Aparajith, the team’s two century-makers in the tournament – within a space of four overs, meant Abhinav and Shankar would have to first find their feet against a steady attack before stepping on the accelerator.
That is what they did precisely. After playing themselves in, the duo started finding the boundaries more often, without taking too many risks.
Shankar would be disappointed though that he got out just 10 short of a hundred. He cut pacer Kuldeep Sen straight to Rishabh Chouhan at point.
At the other end, though, Abhinav was batting with admirable composure and grim determination. The left-hander became more and more aggressive and inventive.
But it was Karthik (8x4, 3x6) who gave the finishing touches to the innings. He timed some stunning shots all around the ground, leaving the Madhya Pradesh fielders dazed and almost resigned to their fate.
He had rattled up 82 for the unfinished fifth wicket with Washington Sundar (17 not out) off just 31 balls.
That left Madhya Pradesh chasing the impossible. Against Tamil Nadu’s quality attack – even without the rested seamers K. Vignesh and T. Natarajan – it needed an innings or two of rare brilliance if it wanted to make a match of it.
But, none of the batsmen could even reach a score of 35. Leg-spinner M. Ashwin took three wickets and there were two each for seamers Abhishek Tanwar and M. Mohammed as well as tweakers R. Sai Kishore and Baba Aparajith.
“With the bowling attack we have, I knew anything above score of 300 is a very good score,” said Abhinav. “It felt good to score a hundred, but batting wasn’t easy early on, as they bowled well and with good pace.”
Tamil Nadu’s last match is against Gujarat, on October 16.
Tamil Nadu 360/4 in 50 overs (Abhinav Mukund 147, Vijay Shankar 90, Dinesh Karthik 65 no) beat Madhya Pradesh 149 in 28.4 overs (Anand Bais 34, M. Ashwin 3/14)