The festive cheer on Christmas day notwithstanding, an overwhelming sense of tedium swamped the climax of the Tamil Nadu-Rajasthan Ranji Trophy Group ‘B’ clash that ended in a draw. Pankaj Singh was adjudged man-of-the-match for his five-wicket burst in the first innings.
The stalemate has left Tamil Nadu in the fourth position in the group, while Rajasthan is seventh out of nine teams.
The visitor walked away with the bragging rights after securing the first-innings lead. When Rajesh Bishnoi (68, 161b, 7x4, 1x6) swept left-arm spinner Rahil S. Shah for four, Rajasthan had hopped past its opponent’s total 21 minutes into the final day. Nearly an hour after lunch, Rajasthan was bowled out for 438.
Tamil Nadu performed the obligatory batting duties in the second innings — B. Aparajith (34 n.o., 5x4) and K.B. Arun Karthick (37 n.o., 5x4) clocking some practice-time — to reach 76 when both teams agreed to put the contest to bed.
Aparajith opened in the absence of Abhinav Mukund, who didn’t take the field from Tuesday onwards owing to an illness.
In the morning, neither team appeared much inclined to pursue an outright victory. Each outdid the other when it came to defensive-play. While Rajasthan’s batsmen, skipper Hrishikesh Kanitkar 52 (207b, 6x4, 1x6) and Bishnoi, weren’t ready to shred the attack, the home side sought refuge in negative bowling.
And, there were the missed moments. Seamer Vijay Shankar (9.5-2-18-1), bowling a spell that lasted an hour-and-a-half, created two opportunities only to thwart them himself. Bishnoi (on 32) and Kanitkar (51) were caught-behind off no-balls, Shankar over-stepping five times on Wednesday.
Tamil Nadu also generously contributed to the rival scorecard with 70 extras, ’keeper K. Dinesh Karthik conceding 37 byes.
After lunch, Arun Karthick donned the big gloves even as Dinesh Karthik fielded in the deep. It’s also baffling to see Malolan Rangarajan introduced into the attack only in the second session.
Later, Bishnoi said it was hard to force the issue. 'Our plan initially was to score some quick runs and declare. But their bowlers were bowling a negative line.'
Ashok Menaria added it was a moral victory for his side. 'We thought this wicket wouldn’t suit our batsmen, but it was a good exposure for the team’s youngsters.'
Vijay Shankar admitted to disappointment, but was optimistic of rebounding in the next game against Bengal, beginning on December 30.
Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: 318.
Rajasthan — 1st innings: Siddharth Saraf c Prasanna b Malolan 63, Vineet Saxena c K. Dinesh Karthik b Rahil 83, Hrishikesh Kanitkar c Balaji b Shankar 52, Robin Bist b Rahil 3, Ashok Menaria lbw b Vijay Shankar 62, Rajesh Bishnoi c (sub) Indrajith b Malolan 68, Chetan Bist b Rahil 6, Ramesh Powar c Aparajith b Aushik 0, Aniket Chowdhary b Aushik 0, Arishta Singhavi c Aushik b Malolan 15, Pankaj Singh (not out) 16, Extras (b-44, lb-9, nb-7, w-5, pen-5) 70; Total (in 181 overs): 438.
Fall of wickets: 1-163, 2-171, 3-177, 4-270, 5-339, 6-361, 7-362, 8-372, 9-411.
Tamil Nadu bowling: L. Balaji 18-8-30-0, Rahil S. Shah 45-12-94-3, R. Aushik Srinivas 43-14-89-2, Malolan Rangarajan 55-18-126-3, B. Aparajith 1-0-8-0, Abhinav Mukund 1-0-1-0, S. Badrinath 4-0-9-0, Vijay Shankar 14-5-23-2.
Tamil Nadu — 2nd innings: B. Aparajith (not out) 34, K.B. Arun Karthick (not out) 37, Extras (nb-4, w-1) 5; Total (for no loss in 28 overs) 76.
Rajasthan bowling: Pankaj 7-1-14-0, Choudhary 7-2-12-0, Singhavi 7-0-29-0, Powar 7-0-21-0.
Man-of-the-match: Pankaj Singh.
Points: Rajasthan 3 (14), Tamil Nadu 1 (18).