Vijay Hazare Trophy: Aparajith slams ton as Tamil Nadu registers seventh straight win

Tamil Nadu leads the group with seven wins and is almost certain to qualify for the knockout phase, while Gujarat is currently second with six wins.

Baba Aparajith celebrates after scoring a century against Railways at SMS stadium in Jaipur on Wednesday.   -  PTI

Baba Aparajith is not going to forget the hot day at the Sawai Mansing Stadium in a hurry.

After registering career-best bowling figures, he scored a neatly paced hundred to ensure that Tamil Nadu’s record in the Vijay Hazare Trophy tournament remained as impressive as his form.

Aparajith’s superb show (4/30 and 111 not out) helped the southern powerhouse to register an eight-wicket win over Railways with 5.5 overs to spare. And just a couple of days ago, he had lost his paternal grandfather.

Vijay Hazare Trophy | As it Happened

With seven wins in as many matches from Group C, Tamil Nadu has already booked a place in the knock-out stage.

It has now 28 points from seven games, four more than Gujarat, which also has a cent per cent record, though it has played a match less.

In this game, the Railways team wasn't expected to stretch Tamil Nadu. With the way they batted -- after winning the toss -- they more or less made it certain that there would be little scope for any twist in the script.

A target of 201 for a batting line up that oozes as much class and experience as Tamil Nadu was easily achieveable. Not even the early loss of the openers, Abhinav Mukund and Murali Vijay, could make any impact on the chase.

When Tamil Nadu was reduced to 17 for two, Railways may have felt they were still in the game. However, their hopes faded as they were forced to chase the ball all around the ground.

Aparajith (111, 124b, 7x4, 1x6) and Vijay Shankar (72no, 113b, 3x4, 1x6) also showed them how to execute a chase with precision.

The duo put on 186 for the unfinished third-wicket. Shankar also gave enough strike to Aparajith, who finally got a well-deserved hundred, after making four fifties in the competition.

Determination and fluent drives through the off-side were the features of his batting.

Earlier in the day, it was his off-spin that derailed the Railways’ batting. Pratham Singh and Devdhar had negotiated the seam attack of Vijay Shankar and K. Vignesh on a greenish-looking track when Aparajith came on as the first change.

The opening wicket was worth 39 in eight overs when Aparajith bowled a ball that turned just enough to clean up Devdhar. What followed was an inept effort from the Railways batsmen.

Though Pratham (43, 56b) gave hopes of a reasonable score, Railways was let down by the painfully slow batting of Manish Rao and skipper Arindam Ghosh.

Adding to the woes was another tidy effort by the Tamil Nadu bowlers, spearheaded by Aparajith, who is now the leading scorer in the tournament with 439 runs, with an average of 109.75.

Brief scores: Railways 200 for 9 in 50 overs (Manish Rao 55, Pratham Singh 43, B Aparajith 4/30) lost to Tamil Nadu 203 for 2 in 44.1 overs (Aparajith 111 not out, Vijay Shankar 72 not out). TN: 4 points, Railways: 0.

Tripura 224 all out in 49 overs (Mishra 72, Milind 43, M B Mura Singh 30, Akash Deep 2/29, Ishan Porel 2/45) lost to Bengal 227 for 5 in 47.1 overs (Manoj Tiwary 85, Agniv Pan 57, Mura Singh 2/32). Bengal: 4 points, Tripura: 0.

Rajasthan 239 for 8 in 50 overs (Aditya N Garhwal 91, Chetan Bist 71, Diwesh Gurudev Pathania 3/28) beat Services 191 all out in 44 overs (Mohit Ahlwat 49, Nakul Sharma 42, AP Sharma 28, Rahul Chahar 4/56, S K Sharma 3/40). Rajasthan: 4 points, Services: 0.