TN ride on Kaarthick ton

Right-hander propels visitors to 62-run win over hosts Karnataka

There’s something about the Chinnaswamy stadium and a crisis situation that combine to bring the best out of Dinesh Kaarthick.

heave ho: Tami Nadu’s Dinesh Kaarthick smashes a six during his quickfire century against Karnataka in the Subbaiah Pillai Trophy on Thursday. DH PHOTO/ Srikanta Sharma R

Three summers back, in a Duleep Trophy game with South Zone reduced to 86 for six, the Tamil Nadu stumper made a wonderful 153 to haul his team out of the woods, and followed it up with another brilliant century in the second innings to bat Central Zone out of the contest.

The situation was as dire on Thursday as it had been in January 2009.

Put in by Robin Uthappa, Tamil Nadu had stumbled to 45 for four inside the first hour and a quarter when Kaarthick once again rose like the Phoenix, counter-punching in sensational fashion to reduce their match against Karnataka in the KS Subbaiah Pillai Trophy to a no-contest.

The defending champions seemed to be extending their poor batting run of the previous game, when they were shot out for 200 by Goa, as Abhimanyu Mithun and Ronit More made excellent use of the early assistance from an initially seamer-friendly track. The top-order cleaned up for next to nothing, Tamil Nadu appeared ripe for the taking until Kaarthick grew fangs, putting on an absolute exhibition on his way to a sparkling 137 (132b, 18x4, 4x6).

His excellent century was the foundation on which Tamil Nadu erected a commendable 270 for seven, more than par for the course on a surface that increasingly played up and down during the Karnataka chase. For a while, when Uthappa laid into his opposite number Lakshmipathi Balaji, the hosts were in with a chance, but once the skipper skied to mid-on, the fight went out of the Karnataka batting.

Dismissed for 208, not only did Karnataka go down by 62 runs, but they also conceded the bonus point – they had been required to make 217 if they weren’t to lose a point – to slip to third on the points table, while Tamil Nadu leapfrogged to second, behind all-win Hyderabad.

There is a simplicity to Kaarthick’s batting that is at once pleasing and heartening. Striding out at 13 for two in the fourth over, he quickly got into his groove with a stunning cover-drive off the pacy More, merely caressing the ball which flew away to the fence. It was the first sign that Kaarthick was in the mood, a sign that grew bigger with every passing minute as he treated pace and spin – KP Appanna was extremely disappointing – with tremendous disdain.

His partners during the rescue act were the phlegmatic R Prasanna during a stand of 119 (134b) for the fifth wicket and S Suresh Kumar, who helped realise 71 (54b) for the next.
Intimidating as Tamil Nadu’s total was, it wasn’t insurmountable, but Karnataka needed to start well, especially with Stuart Binny missing with an injury to his left hand. R Jesuraj’s exceptional first spell (6-0-20-2) was being neutralised clinically by Uthappa’s calculated assault on Balaji and C Ganapathy. Then, the opener tried to walk across his stumps once too often in trying to work to leg and put up a skier to trigger an irreversible downslide.

Balaji claimed Manish Pandey with the fifth delivery of his second spell, and the lack of experience and quality of the middle-order was then exploited by spinners M Prabhu and Suresh. The sensible Sunil Raju battled valiantly in a bid to rescue the one point, but Ganapathy cleaned him up to deny Karnataka even that consolation.

Teams    Mat    Won    Lost    Pts    NRR

Hyderabad    3     3      0    13    +1.378
Tamil Nadu    3    2     1    9    +0.368
Karnataka    3    2     1    8    +1.131
Kerala    3     1    2    4    -0.279
Goa    3    1     2    4    -1.141
Andhra    3     0    32    -2     -1.525

Read under: Mat: Matches; Pts: Pointsl NRR: Nett run rate.

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