Arun Karthik ton secures draw, but Delhi take three points
Delhi 555 for 4 dec (Mohit 175, Chand 138) drew with Tamil Nadu 226 (Karthik 75, Prasanna 58, Awana 4-53) and 220 for 2 (Arun Karthik 121*)
Delhi came out of their Ranji Trophy match against Tamil Nadu with first-innings points that were hard-earned and well-deserved; of the two teams at the Kotla, Delhi were more purposeful and intense.
Tamil Nadu spent the final day of the game following-on and holding out for a draw. They ensured there were no more dramas after they had been dismissed for 224 on Monday in reply to Delhi's first-innings score of 555. Led by their opener, K B Arun Karthik, who scored his first Ranji century of the season, Tamil Nadu ended the day at 220 for 2 in 77 overs. Karthik was not out on 121 after a little over five hours of resolute but aggressive batting. It was a performance that Tamil Nadu could have done with 24 hours earlier.
Karthik, who, in the company of Abhinav Mukund and Murali Vijay, is the least known of the Tamil Nadu triumvirate of openers and began his competitive career in Sri Lanka, held off a sustained first-session burst of seam and swing from Delhi's attack, well aware that once the morning session was past, he could cash in. Five minutes before lunch, though, Abhinav Mukund drove uppishly against left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra to Rajat Bhatia at mid-off; on the other side of the break Tamil Nadu lost the wicket of Baba Aparajith to wobble a little at 117-2, but the calming presence of S Badrinath was quick to put an end to Delhi's dreams of an outright win.
With Badrinath striking the ball from the middle of his bat, Delhi accepted the sign that there was little point in their quick bowlers being forced to run in all afternoon. Karthik began facing the second rung of Delhi's bowling, once he had held off Bhatia. As he neared a century, he was given an entire bowling sweet-shop to tuck to; first from Unmukt Chand and then even more delicious offerings in a few Vaibhav Rawal full tosses. He smacked Rawal twice towards the midwicket boundary with a bat-swing that would have made baseball legend Babe Ruth proud and leapt from his nineties to his fifth first-class century.
Play was called off 30 minutes after tea at the start of the mandatory overs. Delhi captain Shikhar Dhawan said there were no regrets in his dressing room about having to field for two days running. "We had to give ourselves the chance to get seven points, plus we wanted our bowlers to have bowl in a second innings here; if we get into the quarters, this would have been a good experience for them."
Delhi have picked up three points from this game and Tamil Nadu just one; at the halfway stage for both teams, Delhi with 11 points from four games, are third behind surprise leaders Odisha and Baroda who have 13. Tamil Nadu have slipped to fifth with nine points from four games, UP on fourth with 10 points from three. Delhi now play three of their next four games away from home. Coach Vijay Dahiya believes if Delhi can get two outright wins from their next four games, they will have a "80 to 90 percent chance" of qualifying for the quarters.
From December 1 to 4, Delhi will play Haryana in Lahli while Tamil Nadu travel to Vidarbha.
Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo