It was purely a 'Batsman's Evening' with Tamil Nadu opener Abhinav Mukund and talented Bengal boy Sudeep Chatterjee's twin tons took India Red to a commanding 354-run lead against India Green on the second day of the Duleep Trophy on Wednesday.
After the bowlers ruled the roost with 17 wickets on the first day, it was the turn of southpaws Abhinav (162 batting, 212 balls) and Sudeep (114, 182 balls) to conjure up a 240-run partnership for the second wicket.
The Reds reached 344/3 at stumps after bowling out the Green team for 151 in their first innings with young Rajasthan pacer Nathu Singh picking up 6/53 in 12.4 overs of brisk fast medium bowling. However, the second day's play was all about the domination of Abhinav and Sudeep on a pitch that got slower considerably and the much talked about pink ball hardly made any difference even under the lights. The movement off the pitch was minimal which made it easy for batsmen to negotiate.
Mukund, who scored 77 in the first innings, looked more comfortable of the two at the outset as he played the trio of Ashoke Dinda, Ankit Rajpoot and Sandeep Sharma late from the crease relying on shots square of the wicket and the occasional upper cuts. Sudeep was cautious initially before he opened playing a number pull shots.
However, the moment spinners Jalaj Saxena (1/69) and Pragyan Ojha (0/45) were introduced, both the left handers used their feet to good effect as they came to the pitch of the ball with ease. There were times the slowness also contributed as both had enough time to rock onto backfoot and hit on the on-side. Sudeep's familiarity having played Ojha and Dinda in Bengal nets also helped him.
Mukund hit 19 boundaries and completed his 22nd ton with a firm push through mid on for two runs off Rajpoot's bowling. He did get a couple of reprieves on 62 and 92 with rival captain Suresh Raina dropping him on both occasions. Sudeep, who reached a personal milestone of 2000 first-class runs, reached his sixth hundred in the longer format with a couple backfoot punches through midwicket. He hit 14 fours. Sudeep was finally gone when he was trapped leg before by Shreyas Gopal.
Yuvraj Singh hit a six and a four before being caught and bowled by Saxena. Earlier, Nathu bowled a couple of perfect blockhole deliveries to complete a coveted five-for before wrapping up the innings with Saurabh Tiwary's (50) wicket.
Brief Scores: India Red 161 and 344/3 in 78 overs (Abhinav Mukund 162 batting, Sudeep Chatterjee 114) India Green 151 in 45.4 overs (Saurabh Tiwary 50, Nathu Singh 6/53).