On a day of fluctuating fortunes, Tamil Nadu seized the initiative by bagging a slender first-innings lead of 43 runs against Maharashtra on the second day of the Group B Ranji Trophy match at MA Chidambaram stadium here. Lakshmipathy Balaji and Malolan Rangarajan took four wickets apiece to help the hosts gain the all-important lead.
Skipper Balaji did the trick by picking up the first three wickets on Sunday to reduce Maharashtra to 38 for 3. He first induced Chirag Khurana to edge to Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps and followed it up with a peach of a delivery to castle Harshad Khadiwale. Later, Balaji picked up the wicket of Nikhil Paradkar in almost similar fashion to that of Chirag. S Atitkar (36, 69b, 4x4, 1x6) and Kedar Jadhav (45; 63b, 4x4, 2x6) showed some resistance and kept the scoreboard ticking.
Kedar, who scored a triple century in his previous game, scored boundaries at will with Atitkar giving him good support. After doing the rescue act for his team, Kedar went for an ambitious shot off Malolan Rangarajan and missed the line as Karthik effected a neat stumping. His dismissal left Maharashtra in tatters at 109 for 6.
TN must have thought that they have seized the advantage against Maharashtra.However, skipper Rohit Motwani and Shrikant Mundhe gave a torrid time to the hosts by adding 98 runs for the seventh wicket.
During this phase Balaji shuffled all his bowlers and met with little success. Shrikant’s (61; 116b, 9x4, 1x6) six off Aushik Shrinivas over long off showed his class. His straight drive to the fence off a sharp rising delivery from Yo Mahesh was perhaps the shot of the day.
He was the only player who played off-spinner Malolan, the most successful Tamil Nadu bowler, with a degree of comfort. On the other hand, Motwani was resolute and played some crisp shots off Aushik. When the pair was looking solid and threatening to get near TN’s total, Motwani lost his concentration and fell lbw to J Kaushik.
Motwani’s dismissal triggered a collapse as Maharashtra were all out in quick time. Shrikant lost his patience and edged Malolan to Karthik behind the stumps. “The ball kept low and I played across and got out. After our partnership broke (Motwani-Mundhe) wickets fell quickly and we missed an opportunity to take the lead. But the match is far from over,” said Motwani.
“This is a result-oriented wicket. We have conceded only a small lead. We will bounce back. The first hour on Monday is crucial. If we manage to take a couple of wickets we can put pressure on the opposition,” added Motwani.
Earlier, Tamil Nadu were all out for 276 after just adding three runs to their overnight total. Malolan Rangarajan was the final wicket to fall to Mundhe.