March 11, 2001

Vidyuth Sivaramakrishnan cracks 115 at No 11

It is not often that a No 11 batsman gets a hundred in first class cricket. And in 67 years of the Ranji Trophy competition, no player going in last had reached the three figure mark - until Sunday. The record score had been held by S Mubarak Ali who scored 90 for Nawanagar against Bengal way back in 1936-37. In the process, he and Yadvendrasinhji added 138 runs, a record in the national competition that stood for 47 years. On Sunday, at the picturesque IIT-Chemplast ground in Chennai, Vidyuth Sivaramakrishnan created Ranji history by scoring 115 in the Ranji Trophy pre quarterfinal against Delhi.

When the second day started under clear blue skies and a burning sun, Delhi would undoubtedly have hoped for early wickets to wind up the Tamil Nadu first innings. So they did, enjoying a period of fortune and some good cricket to restrict Tamil Nadu, who resumed at 287/3, to 434/9 in the 127th over. A score in the region of 450 is not insurmountable in Indian domestic cricket. Indeed, Robin Singh must have been kicking himself for playing the delicate cut stroke, which he missed and was bowled after making an impressive 63. The Tamil Nadu innings went on a tailspin after the skipper's dismissal.

At the fall of the ninth wicket, Vidyuth, the junior India left-arm spinner, walked out to join the young MR Shrinivas. Delhi captain Vijay Dahiya persisted with spin to get the last wicket. What followed was history. The left handed Vidyuth made 115 off just 122 balls, striking 17 boundaries and three huge sixes out of the ground. In one over from Virendra Shewag, he smashed three fours and a six, as the Delhi players hung their heads in disbelief. By the time the fast bowlers were called in to the attack, Vidyuth was in full flow, pulling and hooking the short stuff bowled at him. He got to his hundred with a hook shot to long leg, where Amit Suman dropped the easy catch to give away two runs.

While Vidyuth had his moment of glory, the unsung hero at the other end was Shrinivas who played with a lot of responsibility to make an unbeaten 42 off 141 balls with four strokes past the ropes. It was his assuring knock that helped Vidyuth to go on the rampage. By the time, the reliable Delhi seamer, Robin Singh Jr, bowled Vidyuth, the two batsmen had added 158 runs for the last wicket to take Tamil Nadu to an imposing 592 runs. The only higher last wicket stand in the national competition is 233 between Ajay Sharma and Maninder Singh for Delhi against Bombay in 1991-92.

Earlier, JR Madanagopal raced to his fifty but was then brilliantly run out by Amit Bhandari. Madanagopal made 54 in the score of 297/4, hitting five boundaries and a six.

Hemanth Kumar carried on in his good form and added just 13 more runs to his overnight score. He was caught by Bhandari off the bowling of Shewag for 121, the fifth wicket falling at 336. S Mahesh (6) was the next batsman to be dismissed at 357, caught behind by Pradeep Chawla off Amit Suman's bowling. Mahesh might have been a shade unlucky to be given out as he walked back to the pavilion dejected.

Reuben Paul and Robin Singh added 60 runs for the sixth wicket in double quick time. Robin struck nine boundaries and a massive straight six in his knock. Paul was more adventurous, striking the ball clean and sweet. He played a hook shot that easily cleared the ground and sent the ball sailing into the woods. Paul was dismissed to the ball which followed Robin Singh's dismissal, Mithun Minhas taking a stunning catch at gully off a powerful square cut. Paul made 35 off just 32 balls. Ashish Kapoor (12) was the ninth wicket to fall at 434 bowled by Robin Singh Jr. who finished with 3/96 in 33.5 overs.

Delhi had spent almost two full days in the scorching sun. They were left with the uncomfortable prospect of batting for ten overs in the evening, as the shadows grew longer. Shrinivas who showed amazing skills with the bat, bowled a fiery spell, hurrying and beating the batsmen with sheer pace. This enabled the other medium pacer Mahesh to bowl Akash Chopra (11). At close of play Delhi were 32/1 with Gautham Ghambir on 17 and Rahul Sanghvi on four.