If he was all grace and class on the opening day, Ruturaj Gaikwad showcased his T20 prowess on day two with some brutal power hitting before falling five runs short of what would have been a well-deserved maiden First Class double century.
But his highest First Class score of 195 (184b, 24×4, 8×6) was enough to help Maharashtra post a formidable 446 against Tamil Nadu in the fifth-round Ranji Trophy clash at the MCA International Stadium in Pune on Wednesday.
In reply, Tamil Nadu finished the day on 267 for four, trailing by 179 runs. Pradosh Ranjan Paul (74 batting) and Vijay Shankar (41 batting), the last pair of front-line batters, rescued the team from 164 for four with an unbroken 103-run stand for the fifth wicket.
Earlier in the day, after Maharasthra lost two wickets in the first three overs, Gaikwad farmed the strike judiciously while taking his chances in pursuit of quick runs scoring 77 of the 96 his side made.
He was particularly severe on Warrier, employing some audacious pull shots, upper-cuts and the best of them all, carving a wide yorker over the cover boundary.
TN’s reply got off poorly when pacer Praveen Dadhe had B. Sai Sudharsan trapped leg-before for a duck in the first over before accounting for B. Aparajith (20).
The other opener N. Jagadeesan (77), and skipper B. Indrajith (47), got the innings back on track with a 94-run stand for the third wicket.
Jagadeesan was fluent against the pacers, starting with a flurry of boundaries with beautiful drives and flicks. In the penultimate over before tea, after hitting the left-arm spinner Satyajeet Bachhav for a six once down the ground, Jagadeesan got ambitious when he tried to repeat it and was caught at long-on.
Pradosh and Vijay, who scored tons in the last match against Mumbai to save the game, will need to repeat the feat for TN to stay alive in this fixture.
Maharashtra (1st innings)
Ruturaj Gaikwad c Jagadeesan b Crist 195, Siddhesh Veer (run out) 9, Rahul Tripathi c Jagadeesan b Vignesh 7, Kedar Jadhav lbw b Vijay Shankar 56, Ankeet Bawane c Ajith Ram b Warrier 45, Azim Kazi c Aparajith b Warrier 88, Saurabh Navale c Indrajith b Vignesh 5, Ashay Palkar c Indrajith b Sai Kishore 11, Satyajeet Bachhav c Jagadeesan b Warrier 5, Rajvardhan Hangargekar c Aswin Crist b R Sai Kishore 4, Praveen Dadhe not out 0,
Extras (b-8, lb-5, w-8): 21
Total (in 98 overs): 446
Fall of wickets: 1-38, 2-45, 3-126, 4-159, 5-185, 6-208, 7-355, 8-371, 9-412
Tamil Nadu Bowling: Vignesh 17-1-80-2, Warrier 25-5-105-3, Crist 12-1-43-1, Sai Kishore 17-1-68-2, Vijay Shankar 14-1-62-1, Aparajith 4-0-22-0, Ajith Ram 8-1-52-0, Pradosh 1-0-1-0.
Tamil Nadu (1st innings)
B. Sai Sudharsan lbw b Dadhe 0, N. Jagadeesan c Palkar b Bachchav 77, B. Aparajith c (sub) b Dadhe 20, B. Indrajith c (sub) b Hangargekar 47, Pradosh Ranjan Paul batting 74, Vijay Shankar batting 41
Extras (lb-4, w-2, nb-2): 8
Total (for four wkts in 65 overs): 267
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-44, 3-138, 4-164
Maharashtra bowling: Dadhe 12-2-54-2, Palkar 14-1-52-0, Hangargekar 15-0-61-1, Tripathi 3-1-16-0, Bachhav 16-1-52-1, Veer 5-0-28-0.