Vijay Shankar and captain Dinesh Karthik’s 101-run stand helped Tamil Nadu to end the match with a draw against Punjab on the final day of the Ranji Trophy Elite Group ‘B’ match on Monday.  Faced with a massive deficit of 264 runs, the visitors saw skipper Baba Indrajith (93), Dinesh Karthik (74) and Vijay Shankar (51 not out) get among the runs to defy the Punjab bowlers and finish the day at 383 for 6.  The result meant Tamil Nadu, now on 12 points, is almost out of contention for a berth in the knockout phase. Punjab also has the same number of points but has played one game less. The track was easier to bat, the Tamil Nadu batsmen made sure the home side did not get the opening they were seeking in the quest for a win and also six points. Resuming at the overnight score of 166 for 3, Indrajith and nightwatchman Sai Kishore (9, 54 balls) add 23 more runs in the first hour before the latter was trapped LBW by Abhishek Sharma.

Dinesh Karthik, who came in at the fall of Kishore, brought his experience to the fore and strung together a useful 72-run stand for the fifth wicket with Indrajith. Both batsmen negotiated the rival bowlers with a degree of comfort and Tamil Nadu cut down the home team’s lead. Indrajith hit some delightful shots, while Karthik was his usual bustling self, hammering the loose deliveries and also running well.

Tamil Nadu captain looked good to get his ninth first-class century before he was unlucky to be run-out when a shot by Karthik deflected off bowler Sandeep Sharma’s hand onto the stumps, leaving Indrajith short of his crease. Meanwhile, Karthik fell to a good catch by Baltej Singh at mid-on when he failed to keep down a drive to give Sandeep Sharma his second wicket. With a result unlikely, the match was then called off with 15 overs to go. Young Shubman Gill was named as man of the match for his brilliant knock of 268. Punjab replied with 479 after Tamil Nadu made 215 in the first innings.

Whereas, in other Group ‘B’ matches, Himachal Pradesh outclassed Andhra Pradesh by an innings and three runs in Atmar to gain seven points while the Bengal-Hyderabad encounter ended in a draw.

Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 215 and 383 for 6 in 121 overs (Abhinav Mukund 74, B Indrajith 93, Dinesh Karthik 74, Vijay Shankar 51 not out, N Jagadeesan 50) drew with Punjab 479 all out in 118.5 overs (Shubman Gill 268, Mandeep Singh 50, R Sai Kishore 6 for 107).

Points: Punjab: 3, TN: 1.

At Amtar: Andhra 173 and 284 all out in 100.5 overs (C R Gnaneshwar 103, Jyothisaikrishna 82 not out, Gurvinder Singh 3 for 62, M J Dagar 3 for 89) lost to Himachal Pradesh 460 all out (A R Kalsi 120, RR Dhawan 76) by an innings and 3 runs.

Points: HP: 7, AP: 0.

At Hyderabad: Bengal 336 all out in 120.3 overs (Abhimanyu Easwaran 186) and 49 for 1 in 14 overs drew Hyderabad 312 all out in 123.1 overs (Rohit Rayudu 93, Himalay Agarwal 65, Mukesh Kumar 4 for 54, Ashok Dinda 4 for 88). Points: Bengal: 3, Hyderabad: 1.

Five teams from Group ‘A’ and ‘B’ will advance to the quarterfinals, based on the number of points accrued.

(With PTI inputs)