CHENNAI: For those invested in Tamil Nadu’s Ranji Trophy campaign this year, the scoreboard after the end of the first day of their fifth Group C clash against Madhya Pradesh makes for a heartening read. Considering that the visitors have to win this and their next clash to stay in contention for the knockouts, Madhya Pradesh’s 224/7 in 80 overs after end of play at the Holkar Stadium in Indore is bound to appease TN fans.
That might change if they decide to scrutinise the scorecard a bit more, and look at the ‘Fall of Wickets’ column: 1/25, 2/40, 3/52, 4/64, 5/67, 6/187, and 7/189. Annoyance will ostensibly be their reaction to the second-last entry. Some might consider Ankit Dane’s and Ankit Sharma’s 120-run rear-guard action as an anomaly. It isn’t, as the resilience showcased by Madhya Pradesh’s lower-order on Friday hints at a bigger pattern.
Among Tamil Nadu’s five matches (including this), there have been six opposition innings in which at least four batsmen below the top-five have been asked to render their services. The numbers pertaining to those instances, to say the least, are troubling. During these innings, the opposition top-five have aggregated 1,011 runs at an average and strikerate of 33.7 and 53.38. Pit these statistics against those for the bottom- six: 801 runs at an average and strike-rate of 30.81 and 42.05.
The sub-text of this is: despite making inroads, Tamil Nadu’s bowlers have been stymied by the lower-order. And they’ve done it quite successfully, taking into consideration the 317.3 overs endured by them. The same number for the top-five is 11 balls lesser. If that isn’t enough to substantiate a case for this apparent malaise, there’s more. In those six innings, the lower-six have churned out six half-centuries and one ton; comparable to the seven fifties and three centuries notched up by the top-five. These statistics have manifested themselves in an unfavourable manner.
Despite reducing Andhra Pradesh to 64/5, they lost three points as Andhra went on to 309. The same happened against Odisha: a last-session clinching of three points as they fought back from 310/5 to 533/9. Vice-captain Baba Indrajith said that his team was in the process of alleviating the issue. “Not picking wickets and giving away boundary balls while trying to do so have hurt us. Bundling them out for low scores is top priority, and we are focussing on that. The pitches for a couple of matches didn’t have much. But this game is different as the strip is lively.”
Group A: In Guwahati: Hyderabad 289/8 (B Sandeep 84, A Rayudu 83) vs Assam. In Kanpur: Karnataka 327/3 (M Agarwal 90, D Nischal 90, K Nair 62, M Pandey 63) vs UP. Group B: In T’puram: Kerala 225 (S
Samson 68; D Jadeja 6/112) vs Saurashtra.
Group C: In Ongole: Mumbai 248/6 (P Shaw 114, S Lad 86) vs AP. In Indore: MP 224/7 (A Sharma 75 n.o, A Dane 63) vs TN . In Vadodara: Baroda 281/3 (K Devdhar 104, A Waghmode 52, D Hooda 51) vs Odisha.