It was an interesting battle between old and new. Lakshmipathy Balaji was trying to set up Harshad Khadiwale with a series of outswingers, conceding three fours in the process. Then, without changing the angle, the veteran Tamil Nadu medium-pacer came up with a vicious inswinger that went through the gate and crashed into the middle-stump. Balaji had the last laugh over the young Maharashtra opener which provided a spark in an otherwise dull affair.
On Day 3 at Eden Gardens, Tamil Nadu were once again happy to play the waiting game. Under a scorching sun, they were trying to wear down their opponents. The result was a crawl that saw them bat for 16 hours and 40 minutes to score 549 all out in their first innings.
Maharashtra had their opportunities though in the first session on Friday. Resuming on overnight 426 for five, Tamil Nadu lost Baba Indrajith and Ramaswamy Prasanna early. Both were out to medium-pacer Anupam Sanklecha with Khadiwale taking the catches in slips.
At 444 for seven, there was a hint of a late order collapse but Malolan Rangarajan and Aswin Crist put on 57 runs for the eighth wicket to avoid it. Rangarajan finished on 67, his fourth half-century in first-class cricket.
To their credit, Maharashtra didn’t wilt under the heat and mountain of runs and showed intent in the 32 overs they batted on Friday. They finished on 110 for one, going at 3.43 runs per over. Tamil Nadu’s innings run-rate was 2.42. Losing Khadiwale early was a blow, for he has been Maharashtra’s most prolific batsman this season with 633 runs in nine matches before this game. But Swapnil Gugale and Khurana put up a strong fight, playing some gorgeous shots and adding 90 runs in an unfinished second wicket partnership.
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 549 all out in 226.4 overs (Ramaswamy Prasanna 72, Baba Indrajith 69; Anupam Sanklecha 3/115) vs Maharashtra 110/1 in 32 overs.