Kolkata: Dinesh Karthik struck a solid 113 as Tamil Nadu put themselves in command against Maharashtra despite their slow-and-steady approach on an innocuous Eden Gardens pitch on day two of their Ranji Trophy cricket semifinal against Maharashtra here.
On a deceptive green top that had little in it for the bowlers, Karthik made hay with 113, while half-centuries from Vijay Shankar (91), Ramaswamy Prasanna (64 not out) and Baba Indrajith (68 not out) down the order ensured that Tamil Nadu pile up 426/5 in 177 overs at the close of play.
Under hot and humid conditions, it was a frustrating day for Maharashtra as captain Rohit Motwani used eight bowlers but they toiled hard only to take two wickets as Tamil Nadu opted to play it safe scoring at a run rate of 2.6 an over.
Continuing with his fine form, Indrajith, who scored 111 and 49 against Vidarbha, slammed his second successive half-century and put on 107 runs with Prasanna for the unbroken sixth wicket.
Karthik's innings spanned seven hours and 35 minutes as he consumed 304 balls for his 22nd first class century before he edged one to wicketkeeper Motwani off Shrikanth Mundhe to be the only second wicket to fall in the day.
The wicketkeeper-batsman later said that his team had no qualms about the slow approach.
"There is no compulsion to have a result on a five-day game. We are looking to play maximum overs and not thinking about declaration," the Tamil Nadu senior batsman said, making it clear that they do not have any intention of a declaration.
"There are a few odd balls keeping low. Maharashtra bowled wide and played negative cricket and we opted to leave them out," he added.
Karthik also hinted that he's eyeing the wicketkeeper's berth in the Test squad which is up for grabs after the retirement of Mahendra Singh Dhoni from the longer version of the game.
"I am happy with my form. I just want to keep scoring runs and let my bat do the talking," he said.
Earlier, just second over before lunch, the other overnight batsman Vijay Shankar missed a second successive century by just nine runs when he mistimed Chirag Khurana to be caught by Kedar Jadhav at cover.
Shankar, who has scored 111 and 82 against Vidharbha in the quarterfinals, faced 194 balls as he hit 11 fours and the only six in the Tamil Nadu innings when he stepped out to Anupam Sanklecha and hit over long on in the 116th over.
The Karthik-Shankar duo put on 190 runs from 395 balls for the fifth wicket and after their departure Prasanna and Indrajith consolidated their innings.
Tamil Nadu 426/5; 177 overs (Dinesh Karthik 113, Vijay Shankar 91, Baba Indrajit 68 batting, R Prasanna 64 batting) vs Maharashtra.