At Chepauk against England, Karun Nair had batted 560 minutes, faced 381 balls and remained unbeaten on 303 — a triple ton in his third Test innings. At the ACA-VDCA Stadium in Vizag on Friday, the Karnataka middle-order batsman got out for 14, staying there for 55 minutes and facing 38 deliveries. The excellent Aswin Crist bowled an outswinger and Nair nicked it to Dinesh Karthik behind the stumps.
In Chennai, KL Rahul had missed out on his maiden Test double hundred by a solitary run. At Vizag, he was dismissed for four, getting squared up to a T Natarajan away-goer. This game indeed is a great leveller and to make matters worse, Nair didn’t take the field when Tamil Nadu came to bat in their first innings. Karnataka coach J Arunkumar informed that the player had lower abdomen pain.
Karnataka batting, however, has been a lot more than Rahul and Nair, but they collectively had an off day on a green deck. Getting bundled out for 88 in 37.1 overs was ignominious by their lofty standards.
Tamil Nadu won a good toss and then Crist took charge, returning with his career-best figures of 6/31 in 13.1 overs. Karnataka promoted Abhimanyu Mithun at No. 5 to offer counter-punch. But the conditions proved to be a little too difficult for a lower-order batsman to cope with. Manish Pandey top-scored with 28 and only three other players – R Samarth, Nair and Vinay Kumar reached double figures.
Tamil Nadu finished the day on 111/4. They would have been happier not to lose Vijay Shankar towards the fag end of the day. It terminated a 70-run fourth wicket partnership. At stumps, Karthik and Abhinav Mukund, who came at No. 6, were batting on 31 and 3 respectively. Karthik was lucky to survive in the final over as miscommunication between wicketkeeper CM Gautam and Shreyas Gopal saw a skier fall safely.
It’s only the first day of a five-day Ranji Trophy quarterfinal but Tamil Nadu are already in a good position to press home the advantage. They started as underdogs, especially after injuries rendered R Ashwin and Murali Vijay unfit. But the team really didn’t miss much, for Ashwin and Vijay weren’t the Ranji Trophy regulars unlike the Karnataka trio of Rahul, Nair and Pandey.
“We didn’t have the benefit of having them (Ashwin and Vijay) throughout the season. So we don’t know what we are missing, because they haven’t been part of the team for quite some time,” Tamil Nadu coach Hrishikesh Kanitkar told The Indian Express. “We had a decent day. It would have been better without the run out. I don’t read too much into the toss. We had a very good team performance in terms of fielding and bowling. A few very good catches were taken. Kaushik Gandhi took a very good catch. Mukund went for a blinder but the ball just slipped out. Our ground fielding was outstanding,” he added.
His Karnataka counterpart vowed to rally. “The toss was very important. (The pitch) was slightly damp in the morning. (Still) it was a bad day for us. We could have batted better. But four days left and we will fight back,” Arunkumar said.
Brief scores: Karnataka 88 (Aswin Crist 6/31, T Natarajan 3/18) vs Tamil Nadu 111/4 (V Shankar 34; S Aravind 2/14)