Thanks to Ghaziabad Cricket Association’s ‘leaky covers’ fiasco, winning the toss assumed an unusual importance on the second day of the UP-Baroda Super League Ranji Trophy encounter, in Ghaziabad on Wednesday.
With a day lost and an hour’s play wasted on the second morning as the pitch wasn't ready, a win in the truncated match is a distant possibility. In such a scenario, playing to earn three points on the basis of first innings lead would be the logical thing to do. Baroda skipper Irfan Pathan went by that logic and opted to bat after winning the toss.
However, the UP bowlers were in no mood to relent. First, their pace bowlers and then leg spinner Piyush Chawla — accounting for four wickets — undid Baroda’s plans. Baroda could only manage 234— and all this despite UP paceman Praveen Kumar sitting out with an injured finger — before they were sent packing.
At one stage, Baroda were reeling at 20 for 3 in 10.2 overs, with openers, Satyajit Parab (0) and Connor Williams (15), back in the pavilion. While Bhuvneshwar Kumar accounted for Parab, R.P. Singh got the better of the latter.
Azhar Bilakhia and Rakesh Solanki then stabilised the innings, pushing the score to 66/3 at lunch. But, post first session, the situation deteriorated with Bilakhia getting out on the last ball of the second over after lunch, trapped leg-before by Bhuvneshwar on 35.
Big-hitter Yusuf Pathan was packed off by Sudeep Tyagi on the first ball he faced. An away moving delivery clipped his bat to land into skipper Md Kaif’s safe hands in the slip cordon. The score read 78/5 in 24.3 overs. It was left for skipper Irfan Pathan and Solanki to shore up the innings. The two put on 91 for the sixth wicket. But just when it seemed they were set for a big total, Irfan fell to Chawla. His effort to paddle-sweep Chawla in the deep was cut short by wicketkeeper Amir Khan.
His innings of 59 was decorated with half-a-dozen boundaries and a six. With Irfan gone, Solanki didn’t stay for long. Playing an identical shot, he too was beaten by Chawla on 58.
With the danger man back in the pavilion, Chawla quickly wiped the tail and Baroda were all out for 234 with Pinal Shah unbeaten on 44. In reply, UP were 36/0 with Tanmay Srivastav (14) and Shivakant Shukla (22) at the crease.