March 10, 2001

Hemanth Kumar cracks unbeaten 108 for Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu piled up 287/3 on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy pre-quarterfinal against Delhi at the IIT-Chemplast ground, Chennai on Saturday. Hemanth Kumar was the toast of the day with an unbeaten 108.

Tamil Nadu skipper Robin Singh opted to bat. Delhi medium pacers Robin Singh Jr and Amit Bhandari extracted pace and bounce on a flat track, troubling S Sriram and S Badrinath in the early overs. Badrinath had an early escape when he edged one from Bhandari that fell short of second slip.

The opening pair put together 70 runs. Sriram (38) was the first to be dismissed, caught behind by Chawla off Bhandari. Sriram never looked too comfortable in the middle.

Badrinath followed Sriram back into the pavilion in a hurry, caught by Shewag off left-arm seamer Amit Suman. The ball kicked up off a good length and popped up in the air after hitting the batsman's gloves. Tamil Nadu were in some trouble at that stage, reduced to 74/2.

Left-handed batsmen Hemanth Kumar and S Sharath took the attack to the Delhi camp, batting sensibly and accumulating runs. Sharath struck one massive straight six and five fours in his classy knock of 58 before being bowled of a big inside edge off the bowling of Suman.

Hemanth and Sharath added valuable 106 runs for the third wicket. Rahul Sanghvi who was dropped from the national side after being smashed by the Aussies in the Mumbai Test, seemed to carry the blues into the match. He looked clearly a different bowler without any confidence to give the ball the loop to purchase wickets on a placid track.

The off spin bowling of Harendra Chaudhury and Virender Shewag did not make an impression on the batsmen either as they kept on piling up the runs. Sharath's wicket was the last success of the day for Delhi.

The spotlight was on Hemant. He played with his usual lazy elegance, driving through covers and playing the pull shot with ,lan. He punished the loose stuff. Delhi relied heavily on their medium pacers to tie down Hemanth, who so far has played a chanceless knock. He got to his hundred by lofting a full toss from Amit Bhandari who was bowling with the second new ball, straight over the bowler's head first bounce over the ropes. He has struck 12 fours and a massive six so far in his unbeaten innings.

Giving Hemanth good company is JR Madanagopal who is unbeaten on 44 including three boundaries and a six. The pair have added 107 runs for the unfinished fourth wicket stand.

Amit Suman was the best of the bowlers, extracting good bounce off the track. He has troubled all batsmen today, bowling left-arm and over the wicket. He did manage to move the ball either way off the seam to finish the day with 2/60 off 17 overs.

Tamil Nadu will hope to pile on the runs tomorrow since, in Indian domestic cricket, most matches are decided on the first innings lead. With the likes of S Mahesh and Robin Singh to follow and Vidyuth Sivaramakrishnan batting at number ten, it might well be another long day in the field for Delhi.

Delhi is led by Vijay Dahiya, who till the other day was a contender for the India wicket keeper's job. Dahiya is playing this match as a batsman while Pradeep Chawla dons the wicket-keeping gloves. Off spinner Nikhil Chopra is not playing as he is indisposed.