There is a popular joke doing the rounds here that the curator of the Madhav Rao Scindia ground must be appointed as consultant to those building national highways. It is claimed, if he can make such a flat pitch, he can do wonders with concrete and tar.
The natural sense of humour of the Saurashtrians is not far-fetched in this case. More than 1,200 runs have been scored in this four-day Duleep Trophy semifinal with about one-and-a-half innings remaining. Yet, Rasik Makwana, the curator here, claims it is a sporting pitch.
On the fourth and final day here on Friday, West Zone, having scored 769 in the first innings, declared their second innings on 345 for seven. North Zone had scored 294 in the only innings they got to bat. The match has ended in a draw and any other result would have been surprising. West will meet South Zone in the final at Hyderabad on February 2.
There was not going to be a result in this match. And this was apparent on third day when West decided not to enforce follow-on. In their second innings, local boy Cheteshwar Pujara, promoted to open the batting, scored a century and Rohit Sharma breezed his way to an almost run-a-ball hundred.
Allrounder Ravindra Jadeja scored yet another half century. But the body language of the North bowlers changed from frustration to desperation and then to helplessness in less time than a BMW takes to hit 100 kmph.
Young left-arm spinner Vikas Mishra did bulk of the bowling and was rewarded with four wickets. The others were largely ineffective. The day began with overnight batsman Parthiv Patel getting out on the second ball he faced. He was caught behind and did not score on Friday. Captain Wasim Jaffer did not last long and was bowled by Mishra. That brought Sharma to the crease.
The Mumbai batsman and Pujara, both of whom had missed out on big scores in the first innings, made the best of the conditions. Their 172-run stand for the fourth wicket was laced with constant hits to the boundary. The usually cautious Pujara, probably inspired by Sharma’s fluid elegance at the other end, tore apart the North attack.
Pujara reached his hundred with a single to the deep mid-wicket off tweaker Ravi Inder Singh. Sharma reached his hundred much the same way some time later.
Ravi Inder finally broke the partnership with an unlikely delivery. A full toss that Pujara possibly tried to hit into the parking lot but only managing to give a catch to mid wicket fielder. Sharma too fell going for a biggie. Rest of the day was a mere formality.