Sai Sudharsan is a natural. The ease with which he picks the length, his balance, a still head both in offence and defence, decisive footwork and the manner he coaxes the ball through the gaps, reflect his glittering qualities.
A left-hander with all the right attributes, the 21-year-old Sudharsan followed up his 179 on debut for Tamil Nadu against Hyderabad with a lovely, free-flowing 113 (180b, 10×4) against Andhra on day two of Ranji Trophy duel at the Ramakrishna College ground here on Wednesday.
And Tamil Nadu, setting up a platform for a victory push on day four, was 273 for four in 77 overs of batting.
Earlier, the Tamil Nadu bowlers made short work of Andhra in the morning, picking up the last five wickets for 20 runs with the second new ball on a surface with bounce and carry.
Intent and intensity are linked by a common thread — Effort. The Coimbatore pitch offers help in the morning — there is carry and seam movement — and both the deceptively sharp L. Vignesh and Sandeep Warrier bowled with rhythm and venom.
Once the bowlers hit the straps, the onus was on the home batters.
Opener Sudharsan assumed centrestage. His partner, the in-form N. Jagadeesan, struck a few weighty blows in his 35 (37b, 5×4) before nicking seamer K.V. Sasikanth.
Then, Sudharsan and B. Aparajith added 163 in 286 balls for the second wicket; a rollicking partnership of different strokes by different blokes.
While the elegant Sudharsan timed the ball on both sides, sending fielders on a leather hunt, Aparajith (88, 193b, 7×4, 2×6) struck some hefty blows and ran hard between wickets.
Sudharsan fell, caught by Sheikh Rasheed at mid-on off left-arm spinner Lalith Mohan.
Eventually, in pursuit of quick runs and unmindful of an approaching century, Aparajith was held on long-on off Lalith Mohan.
There was injury worry too for Andhra.
The wiry Warrier dug one into B. Ayappa and Pradosh Ranjan Paul plucked a reflex catch at short-leg. Later x-rays revealed a hairline fracture. Ayappa bowled just three overs before leaving the field.
Andhra — 1st innings: Abhishek Reddy c Sai Sudharsan b Warrier 85, U.M.S. Girinath c Indrajith b Sai Kishore 3, Sheikh Rasheed b Ajith 37, Hanuma Vihari c Ajith b Vijay Shankar 21, Ricky Bhui st Jagadeesan b Sai Kishore 68, Karan Shinde c Jagadeesan b Vignesh 55, K.V. Sasikanth lbw b Warrier 4, Ntiish Kumar Reddy c Jagadeesan b Vignesh 1, Shoaib Md. Khan c Indrajith b Sai Kishore 18, B. Ayyappa c Pradosh b Warrier 0, Lalith Mohan (not out) 0; Extras (lb-1, nb-1, w-3): 5; Total (in 100.1 overs): 297.
Fall of wickets: 1-30, 2-125, 3-148, 4-153, 5-272, 6-277, 7-279, 8-279, 9-281.
Tamil Nadu bowling: Vignesh 14-2-46-2, Warrier 24-6-64-3, Sai Kishore 25.1-4-73-3, Washington 17-2-46-0, Ajith 14-2-41-1, Vijay Shankar 3-1-7-1, Aparajith 3-0-19-0.
Tamil Nadu — 1st innings: B. Sai Sudharsan c Rasheed b Lalith 113, N. Jagadeesan c Girinath b Sasikanth 35, B. Aparajith c Nitish b Lalith 88, B. Indrajith c Shoaib b Nitish 12, Washington Sundar (batting) 7, Vijay Shankar (batting) 0; Extras (b-5, lb-9, w-4): 18; Total (for four wkts. in 77 overs): 273.
Fall of wickets: 1-65, 2-228, 3-254, 4-273.
Andhra bowling: Ayappa 3-0-13-0, Sasikanth 18-1-70-1, Lalith 31-2-104-2, Nitish 13-2-33-1, Shoaib 12-2-39-0.