Shortly before tea on Wednesday, Maharashtra skittled out Uttar Pradesh for 208 to take an 84-run first innings lead. By the end of the second day, it had stretched to 186 as the hosts finished at 102 for two.
The performance, by far the best this season, gives Maharashtra the advantage, and they owe to Kiran Adhav’s five-wicket haul and some spirited stuff from the pace duo of Samad Fallah and Jitendra Patil.
The visitors were put on notice when Patil uprooted Shivakant Shukla’s off stump in the sixth over. Fallah joined in the wicket-taking act by dismissing Suresh Raina. Attempting a cover drive, Raina instead inside edged it on to his stumps.
Fallah castled Tanmay Srivastava with an incoming delivery and with his exit, UP were wobbling at 52 for 3.
Hitting the seam regularly, the left-arm seamers kept a tight line to bottle up the batsmen.
With three wickets gone in just 10.3 overs, Maharashtra were on the offensive.
It was up to skipper Mohammed Kaif and Parvinder Singh to steady the ship and the duo showed good application to blunt the Maharashtra attack.
Standing like a wall between the hosts and their push for a first innings lead, the two ducked the bouncers and blocked the yorkers as they tapped the ball into the gaps for singles. Such was the approach that they rarely pierced the off side field for a boundary.
The luncheon break proved to be a distraction and the 99-run partnership was finally broken. Kiran Adhav picked up his first wicket when he disturbed Parvinder’s wicket with a quicker delivery.
With his partner gone, Kaif felt obliged to up the scoring rate. But even as he hit the boundaries, wickets started to tumble at the other end.
The skipper finally blinked on 65, when he edged one off Adhav. The Maharashtra tweaker then picked up two wickets off consecutive deliveries to give his team a chance to corner glory.