Vijay Hazare Trophy: Vijay Shankar shines in Tamil Nadu’s win

Vijay Shankar’s all-round show helps Tamil Nadu defeat Bihar by seven wickets. A century from Babul Kumar goes in vain.

In full flow: Vijay Shankar plays through the leg-side en route to his match-winning 91.   -  PTI

Vijay Shankar’s all-round performance — an unbeaten 91 (88b, 6x4, 1x6) and 1 for 17 — helped Tamil Nadu defeat Bihar by seven wickets in an Elite Group C contest on Saturday.

This was Vijay Shankar’s first game this season in the Vijay Hazare Trophy. This marked his return to action after yet another injury.

Electing to bat, Bihar made 217 for seven. Captain Babul Kumar made a valiant 110 (136b, 12x4, 1x6) — a rescue act after Bihar was reduced to 3 for 2 in the second over.

Cautious start

Chasing 217 for victory, Tamil Nadu openers Abhinav Mukund and N. Jagadeesan made a cautious start before the former took charge of the chase. The left-hander played some glorious shots off his pads with flicks and drives through square leg and mid-on.

However, Bihar pulled things back in quick succession with three leg-before-wicket dismissals. Leg-spinner Samar Quadri first had Abhinav dismissed before left-arm spinner Sachin Kumar Singh repeated the dosage to Jagadeesan and C. Hari Nishanth, as Tamil Nadu slumped from 59 for 0 to 75 for 3 in a space of five overs.

In control

Vijay Shankar then took control and played some delightful shots. He started with a back-foot punch and followed it up with a cover drive of off-spinner Shasheem Rathour to get going before a beautiful lofted drive for six over the same region off pacer Kamlesh later in his innings to move to 75.

He was supported well by B. Aparajith (52 n.o., 66b, 1x4) at the other end, who, too, relied more on deft placements than forceful shots. The duo put on 143 runs (unbeaten) for the fourth wicket with only 34 of those runs coming in boundaries; the duo chipped away at the target without any risk and took their side home with ease from a spot of bother.

Early success

Earlier, Vijay Shankar opened the bowling and struck in his first over, dismissing Shasheem Rathour, before K. Vignesh removed the other opener — Vikash Ranjan — in the very next over. Both batsmen were caught behind.

However, Tamil Nadu let the initiative slip away with some ordinary bowling. They did not make good use of the favourable conditions.

Babul went after Vignesh, who after two good overs started to lack consistency with his length, pitching it shorter than he needed to. In one over, Babul went after him, collecting 14 runs with two beautiful pull shots — a six and four over mid-wicket — and another boundary through the cover region.

At the other end, Rahmat Ullah, too, kept getting boundaries easily. He had seven hits to the fence in his knock of 38. The duo added 89 for the third wicket.

Tamil Nadu, however, pulled it back in the second half of the innings, with spinners M. Ashwin, B. Aparajith and Mohammed stemming the flow of boundaries before a flurry of wickets towards the end ensured Bihar never got the final push to post a competitive total.

Brief scores
  • Bihar 217 for seven in 50 overs (Babul Kumar 110, Rahmat Ullah 38, Keshav Kumar 35, Mohammed three for 33) lost to Tamil Nadu 218 for three in 46.5 overs (Vijay Shankar 91 n.o, B. Aparajith 52 n.o., Abhinav Mukund 37) by seven wickets.