Vignesh, Natarajan fire Tamil Nadu into semi-final
On a manic day in which 20 wickets fell and three innings unfolded, Tamil Nadu toppled a full-strength Karnataka side inside two days on a green Visakhapatnam track to march into the semi-final of the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy
Tamil Nadu 152 (Vijay Shankar 34, Aravind 3-16, Gopal 2-1, Vinay 2-52) and 87 for 3 (Karthik 41*) beat Karnataka 88 (Pandey 28, Crist 6-31, Natarajan 3-18) and 150 (Rahul 77, Vignesh 4-53, Natarajan 3-40) by seven wickets Scorecard
On a manic day in which 19 wickets fell and three innings unfolded, Tamil Nadu toppled a full-strength Karnataka side inside two days on a green Visakhapatnam track to march into the semi-final of the 2016-17 Ranji Trophy.
The day began with Dinesh Karthik, playing his 100th Ranji match, nicking behind in the second over and ended with him launching a straight six to secure Tamil Nadu's first outright victory over Karnataka in the Ranji Trophy since 2003-04. Karnataka's current coach J Arunkumar was the captain, and L Balaji, the Tamil Nadu bowling coach, was only playing his 15th Ranji match then.
KL Rahul made a fluent 77, Manish Pandey bagged a duck, and Karun Nair, suffering from lower abdominal pain, literally hobbled his way to 12 at No.8 as Karnataka, who conceded a lead of 64, were bowled out for 150 in the second dig. That was made possible largely due to the efforts of seamer K Vignesh, whose marathon spell of 12-1-43-4 cracked the game open.
He ran in hard and hit the deck harder, and bounced out Karnataka's middle order. T Natarajan then took care of the tail to dismiss Karnataka in just 38.1 overs. This had come after Tamil Nadu, resuming on 111 for 4, were bowled out for 152 an hour before lunch. Chasing 87, Tamil Nadu lost three wickets inside ten overs, but Karthik made a punchy 41 not out off 30 balls to seal the deal.
At the start of the day, though, it had seemed like anybody's game. Karnataka's captain Vinay Kumar nudged his team ahead when he had Karthik, who failed to add to his overnight tally, for 31. B Aparajith then exited in the next over for a three-ball duck. That meant, Abhinav Mukund, who had come into bat at No.6 on the first day because of fever, was left with the tail.
Vinay teased Aswin Crist with a brace of outswingers before pinning the batsman on the pad with an inswinger. But the sharp angle from over the wicket meant the ball would have slid down leg. Abhinav contributed 17 off 48 balls before he was the eighth Tamil Nadu batsman to be dismissed. They were ultimately all-out for in 53.3 overs.
Karnataka started well in their second innings as KL Rahul unfurled a slew of ramps and upper-cuts over the cordon either side of lunch. One such ramp put Karnataka into the lead. Tamil Nadu went into a defensive mode against Rahul and even had a deep point in place at one stage.
They, however, worked their way around Rahul. Kaunain Abbas' off stump was tilted back by a sharp indipper from Vignesh. In his next over, the seamer got one to leap off the deck and Pandey gloved it behind for a nine-ball duck. When Stuart Binny was caught short by a direct hit from Ganga Sridhar Raju, who was substituting for an ill Abhinav, Karnataka were 82 for 4. Nair, who could barely run, was also caught unawares by the hit-the-deck bustle of Vignesh.
An unfazed Rahul continued to play his shots. He imperiously lofted Crist over mid-on, and then survived a nervy moment on 69 when he flashed away from the body and sent a thick outside edge behind. Karthik, who was on the move, dropped a fairly straightforward catch. Rahul wasn't second-time lucky: after adding eight runs he attempted the same shot and this time Karthik snaffled the catch.
Four overs after Rahul's dismissal, Karnataka folded, having managed to survive only 75.2 overs in the match. Karthik then fittingly provided the coup de grâce to spark off rapturous celebrations in the Tamil Nadu camp. Who would have thought the south Indian derby would end inside two days?