Seamer Rudra Pratap Singh was in the spotlight on Sunday, but this time for the right reason. Looking a bit tense and desperate for wickets, the lanky seamer bowled his heart out to give hosts Uttar Pradesh the good start against a spirited Maharashtra.
Caught in the centre of a row between Indian skipper MS Dhoni and the selectors, Rudra Pratap claimed 3/49 to help UP bundle out Maharashtra for 221. The hosts then reached 86 for the loss of one wicket at close to raise hopes of making the most of the chance that came their way.
Desperate for their maiden outright win of the season, UP skipper Mohd Kaif was all smiles in the middle even after losing the toss as the hosts themselves wanted to make use of the morning freshness.
Acting promptly on his captain's call Rudra Pratap and young seamer Bhuvanesh Kumar made the Maharashtra batsmen’s lives difficult with their rising deliveries. However, Kumar got the breakthrough in the very second over, trapping opener Rohan Bhosale (0) leg before, and then forced Rohit Motwani (2) to hand a regulation catch to stumper Mohd Amir Khan.
Rudra, who was on song at his favourite Green Park Stadium pitch, took charge with a three-wicket burst in his first spell of 10 overs, leaving the visitors struggling. He sent opener H Khadiwale (56) packing on the last ball of his sixth over and then removed skipper Nikhil Paradkar (16) and D Shilamkar (1) in quick succession.
One man, who stood tall against the UP attack was Kedar Jadhav, who slammed an unbeaten 93 in 102 balls with the help of 12 fours and three sixes, as Maharashtra's first innings folded at 221. Everyone was expecting a good start from the UP openers Shivakant Shukla and Tanmay Srivastava, but they failed.