Ranji Trophy 2023-24, Day 2: Hardik helps Karnataka keep Tamil Nadu on the backfoot

Karnataka’s bowlers, led by off-spinner K. Shashi Kumar (three for 41), produced a disciplined bowling effort and ran through the Tamil Nadu (TN) top-order to get their side into a commanding position on day two of the Ranji Trophy clash here at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.

Resuming the day at 288 for five, the visiting side got bowled out for 366, with overnight batter Hardik Raj completing his maiden half-century and wicketkeeper-batter S. Sharath chipping in with a vital 45.

The youngster felt the fifty gave confidence when he came to bowl, saying, “Yeah, it is a positive thing, and inside the dressing room, there is a positive approach. So, it does help. I am just happy and looking forward to winning this game for the team.”

In reply, Tamil Nadu finished the day tottering at 129 for seven, losing seven wickets for 68 runs, with its batters showing poor application and technique.

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Only N. Jagadeesan (40) looked comfortable taking on the spinners, getting the side off to a good start with a 51-run stand with fellow opener Vimal Khumar before the latter got bowled around his legs trying to sweep left-arm spinner Hardik Raj.

“I was trying to get him caught at short-leg or leg-slip and to make him play down the leg side,” Hardik explained.

“There was more turn and bounce (than the first day) on the pitch, and our bowlers were bowling good lengths. I felt that the TN batters could have applied themselves better.”

Soon after, Shashi Kumar struck twice in one over, removing the well-set Jagadeesan trapped leg before and then accounting for Pradosh Ranjan Paul two balls later, caught at cover off a leading edge.

Just when TN looked to rebuild, the pacers got into the act, pushing the host side into deeper trouble when Vijaykumar Vyshak had S. Lokeshwar caught at slip with an excellent rising delivery at the stroke of tea.

Vidhwath Kaverappa then snuffed out Vijay Shankar after the break, caught at third slip while flashing loosely at a wide delivery as TN slumped to 93 for five.

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The Karnataka bowlers were impeccable with their line and lengths, giving nothing away to the TN batters, who struggled to rotate the strike and could manage only five boundaries and six.

Earlier, Pradosh struck off day’s second ball day to remove overnight centurion Devdutt Padikkal, caught and bowled. But Sharath came out swinging, starting with a cut, a reverse-sweep and superb on-drive to take his side past 300. Mohammed then struck twice in two overs to remove Hardik and Vyshak in the same over before Sharath guided his team past 350.

With TN needing another 87 runs to avoid the follow-on, Mayank Agarwal’s men are within striking distance of a big win that would almost seal his side’s place in the knockouts.

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