Soon after East Zone lost their sixth wicket for 66 runs on Sunday, Saurabh Tiwary went down on his back. The team doctor rushed out and attended to Tiwary, who was struggling to move. It was early in the innings but the batsman was down with severe cramp.
This was Day 1 of the Duleep Trophy semifinal between East Zone and South Zone at the ACA-VDCA stadium. Basant Mohanty had joined Tiwary in the centre. Had Tiwary left the field, East may have been forced into a meek surrender. But the Jharkhand batsman fought cramp and the charged-up opposition. Mohanty, who with one first class fifty is hardly known for his batting, provided solid support as the duo ensured East reached stumps without further damage on 187 for six. Tiwary (84*) and Mohanty (51*) have raised an unbroken 121-run partnership.
A wet outfield because of the rain over the last couple of days meant the start of the match was delayed by 45 minutes. Overcast conditions and the early morning dampness influenced South to win the toss and field first.
And the impact was immediate as skipper Vinay Kumar and his fellow Karnataka paceman Abhimanyu Mithun got the ball to zip around. When Dheeraj Jadhav (1) tried to defend a Kumar out-swinger, he only managed to nick to slip.
Jadhav's dismissal started a collapse that saw East lose Manish Vardhan (5) to Mithun first. East skipper Natraj Behera (11) and Anustup Mujumdar (4) then fell in the same over to Stuart Binny. When Shiv Gautam (11) was caught behind off left-arm spinner KP Appanna, East threatened to crumble below 100.
However, Tiwary and Mohanty dug in. With Tiwary struggling to move, he decided to take on the bowlers after a subdued start. His pull off Mithun towards fine leg for four was the first momentum boost the innings received, after which, he played his favourite slog sweep off left-arm spinner Aushik Srinivas over deep midwicket for six.
Mohanty, on the other hand, began by blocking everything. Once the pitch slowed down, he started throwing his bat around a bit. A slog over deep midwicket off Binny for six gave further evidence of the pitch having lost its sting.
Brief Scores: East Zone 187/6 (S Tiwary 84 batting, B Mohanty 51 batting; S Binny 2/40, Vinay Kumar 2/43) vs South Zone