Ace off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin starred with a five-wicket haul to help Tamil Nadu bundle out Himachal Pradesh for 158 in 71.4 overs on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Group ‘B’ match here on Tuesday.
B Aparajith, leading the team in the absence of Vijay Shankar who missed out due to a niggle, elected to bowl and the bowlers justified the decision as Ashwin (5 for 67) and left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore (3 for 22) had the HP batsmen in a spin.
The visiting team looked in danger of being bowled out for a sub-100 score before Akash Vashist (35, 94 balls, 4 fours) and Mayank Dagar (33, 62 balls, 3 fours) got together at 76 for 7 to add 53 runs and lend respectability to the total.
Ashwin, who had taken eight wickets (four in each innings) during the narrow loss to Karnataka in the opening round, was at it again as he bowled beautifully to trouble all the batsmen.
The lanky off-spinner brought his experience to the fore and looked dangerous in every spell. He bowled 29 overs of which six were maidens to capture five wickets.
Medium-pacer K Vignesh struck the first blow for Tamil Nadu, dismissing Prashanth Chopra for 4, caught by N Ganga Sridhar Raju.
Ashwin struck with his second ball, having Priyanshu Khanduri caught in the covers by Ganga Sridhar Raju.
He also removed captain Ankit Kalsi (11), Nikhil Gangta (0) and Sumeet Varma (30) to hand Tamil Nadu the advantage.
Ashwin troubled all-rounder Rishi Dhawan with some lovely bowling before Sai Kishore got him.
The resistance by Vashist and Dagar revived the floundering Himachal innings.
The two played cautiously and kept Ashwin & Co at bay with some resolute defence before Vignesh (2/42) ended Dagar’s resistance.
Tamil Nadu openers-Abhinav Mukund and debutant K Mukunth made eight runs from three overs before bad light ended play for the day.
Earlier, Tamil Nadu made five changes to the side that played Karnataka, bring in Ganga Sridhar Raju, K Mukunth, T Natarajan, J Kousik and M Shahrukh Khan in place of Dinesh Karthik, M Vijay, Vijay Shankar, M Ashwin and M Siddharth.
Brief scores: Himachal Pradesh 158 all out in 71.4 overs (A Vashist 35, Mayank Dagar 33, Sumeet Varma 30; R Ashwin 5/65, R Sai Kishore 3/22) vs Tamil Nadu 8 for no loss.