Ranji Trophy: Jadeja & Co make Tamil Nadu grind  

Express News Service

CHENNAI: On his return to competitive cricket after an injury layoff of five months, the conditions at the MA Chidambaram Stadium seemed a lot more welcoming to the Chennai Super Kings star Ravindra Jadeja-led Saurashtra than the home side — Tamil Nadu. In what was a long grind out in the middle, Tamil Nadu finished the opening day of their final Ranji Trophy game of this season at 183/4 in 90 overs.

The pitch was slow with odd spots where the ball lifted off when presented with the seam. The run-making was not easy, nor was facing the tight-knit bowling from one of the experienced attacks in the domestic circuit. If Chirag Jani was extracting extra bounce of the odd delivery,  Yuvrajsinh Dodiya and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja did what they do best — kept bowling wicket to wicket with a close-in field, not giving away anything to score of.

Then there was Ravindra, who was slowly trying to get into the groove. While his first spell of five overs did not tell much, when he came back for the second session, he was in his element. Short run-ups, similar release points, attacking the bat-pad and the stumps, completing his over in a couple of minutes as he always does. In his 17 overs, the 34-year-old gave away 36 runs with no wickets to show.If one had any doubts as to the way Saurashtra bowled, all they have to do is look at the strike rate of the

TN batters. That someone like Baba Indrajith, who is generally a busy batter, is batting with a strike rate just over 30 (31.91) is telling. “When I went in and tried to be aggressive with the spinners, I was not able to. So, I understood that the nature of the wicket is very slow, it was slightly gripping and turning, so it was not easy to play off the backfoot also. Even the singles were difficult because the outfield was very slow and they did not spread the field,” said Indrajith, who was batting on 45 at stumps.

Earlier, his twin brother Baba Aparajith (45) and B Sai Sudharsan (45) got starts, but failed to convert it into a big score as they tried to go for expansive shots. From 112/3, stand-in skipper Pradosh Ranjan Paul, who is leading TN in the absence of an unwell R Sai Kishore, and Indrajith came together to just keep batting without worrying too much about the scoreboard. As the day progressed, Indrajith found his gaps to gain some crucial boundaries. He used his wrists and the crease really well to flick and cut the spinners on either side of the square. Once Pradosh got out to Chirag, Vijay Shankar joined Indrajith and took them safely till the end of day’s play.

While Indrajith is not sure as to what would be a good score on this pitch, the one thing he would not want to happen is to miss out on a big score as he did in the previous game. As for Saurashtra and their skipper, this is not new territory. This is the kind of surface they have played growing up in Rajkot. And one can expect them to be patient and stick to their plans as they did on Tuesday — bowl out the overs, give minimal runs and plug away one wicket at a time.

Select Scores: Group A: At Kolkata: Odisha 96/2 in 35 ovs (Shantanu Mishra 41 batting) vs Bengal; Group B: At Chennai: Tamil Nadu 183/4 in 90 ovs (Sai Sudharsan 45, B Aparajith 45, B Indrajith 45 batting; Chirag 2/30); At Mumbai: Maharashtra 314/6 in 87 ovs (Jadhav 128, Saurabh 56 batting; Deshpande 2/64) vs Mumbai; At Vizianagaram: Assam 113 in 37.5 ovs (Rishav Das 30; M Madhav Rayudu 4/12) vs Andhra 160/3 in 47 ovs (Vihari 80, Reddy 75); At Hyderabad: Hyderabad 247/4 in 90 ovs (Rohit Rayudu 90, Chandan Sahani 67, Rahul Radesh 41; Divij Mehra 2/38) vs Delhi; Group C: Jharkhand 164 all out in 64.2 ovs (K Gowtham 4/61, Shreyas Gopal 3/18) vs Karnataka 80/2 in 27 ovs (R Samarth 31); At Puducherry: Pondicherry 253/4 in 87 ovs (Dogra 117 batting, K B Arun Karthick 75 batting, J S Pande 38) vs Kerala.

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