After being overlooked for the first two games, Kaushik Gandhi justified his recall with a brilliant 154 (340b, 16×4, 5×6) to help Tamil Nadu salvage a draw against Madhya Pradesh on the final day of the Group B Ranji Trophy clash here on Saturday.
With this result, TN got its first point of the season, while MP pocketed three for the first-innings lead.
Resuming at 177 for four, and trailing by seven runs, TN needed to bat out the day to avoid a third outright defeat. Kaushik and skipper B. Aparajith (39) did just that with a 69-run fifth-wicket partnership.
At tea, when the match was called off, Tamil Nadu was 193 runs ahead, having made 377 for seven in its second innings.
Aparajith and Kaushik came up with a disciplined batting effort and got some quick runs with a flurry of boundaries in the first hour.
With the pitch easing out at the Holkar Stadium, the MP bowlers struggled to trouble the batsmen even with the second new ball.
Aparajith looked good during his 39, which included eight boundaries, before Ishwar Pandey had him caught behind.
It was at this time the home team had a small opening when in the very next over Kuldeep forced an edge by Kaushik only for wicketkeeper Himanshu Mantri to drop the easiest of chances.
Kaushik was on 92 and made full use of the reprieve as he quickly got to his century with two boundaries.
Post lunch Kaushik cut loose pulling Avesh Khan for two glorious sixes as he got to his fourth 150 in Ranji Trophy. He was well supported by K. Mukunth (52, 119b, 6×4) who played some fine leg-glances and got his maiden First Class fifty in his second match. The duo added 108 runs for the sixth wicket.
“I was not happy I could not contribute the first innings. I wanted to make it count this time. We needed partnerships to save the game and I was happy I could play a part with some crucial stands,” said Kaushik.
After getting the first point, TN coach D. Vasu was a relieved man. “It was a good batting effort from the boys. Hopefully, this effort turns things for us going forward.”
Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: 149.
Madhya Pradesh —1st innings: 333.
Tamil Nadu — 2nd innings: N. Jagadeesan c Kuldeep b Avesh 54, V. Ganga Sridhar Raju c Bais b Avesh 15, M. Kaushik Gandhi b Venkatesh 154, C. Hari Nishanth b Kuldeep 23, R. Sai Kishore lbw b Kuldeep 0, B. Aparajith c Mantri b Pandey 39, K. Mukunth (not out) 52, J. Kousik lbw b Hirwani 7; Extras (w-7, b-9, lb-17): 33. Total (for 7 wkts. in 131.4 overs): 377.
Fall of wickets: 1-19, 2-125, 3-176, 4-176, 5-247, 6-355, 7-377.
Madhya Pradesh bowling: Avesh 26-6-86-2, Pandey 30-5-90-1, Kuldeep 25-5-59-2, Hirwani 28.4-3-87-1, Venkatesh 21-9-27-1, Rameez 1-0-2-0.