A swollen jaw, a two-paced pitch and a lost plot --- that's how the story unfolded at the Ferozshah Kotla on Friday as Tamil Nadu took a 69-run lead over Delhi going into the third day of their Ranji Trophy Super League group B tie.
Reputations meant little on Day 2, else, a batting line-up comprising Murali Vijay, Abhinav Mukund and Dinesh Karthik wouldn't have been reeling at 88 for five. And neither would the Delhi bowlers - taken to task by Gujarat in their last match - have looked so menacing. The first hour provided the answer to why Delhi skipper Mithun Manhas badly wanted Ashish Nehra in the team.
Vijay was scratchy, and Nehra made it more difficult for him. Tired of playing, missing and edging, the opener decided it was better not to bring the willow into play and was caught plumb in front. Nehra followed it up by sending back Arun Karthik off the next ball.
The medium pace of Pradeep Sangwan may not appear menacing, but he sent Mukund back to the dressing room with an injured jaw. The two-paced pitch had left Mithun gasping for breath after he was struck on the abdominal guard on Thursday.
Mukund's dented helmet-visor served another reminder of the track's uncertain nature. Thankfully, he did not suffer a fracture.
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Given a choice, Parvinder Awana would have done away with the slip cordon - it was practically of no use to him. As much as he bowled relentlessly, Awana was unlucky not to have at least three wickets against his name, thanks to dropped catches.
After the initial jolt, the Tamil Nadu batsmen did not let these chances slip by. A dogged Ramaswammy Prasanna (59) and bowler-turned-batsman Yomahesh (47) forged a partnership of 86 runs to bail out the team. "I've always believed that I could bat, and today it was needed too," said Yomahesh after his highest first-class score.
Mukund couldn't speak for the rest of the day, but he could bat. So, the ordeal continued for Delhi as the opener walked in again at number eight, and stayed unbeaten on 89 at the end of the day's play.