THANKS TO a classic unbeaten 169 by skipper Santhosh Sau and a patient unbeaten 85 by Rohit Dhru, Bilaspur on Thursday took first innings lead against hosts Ujjain in the Maharaja Yeshwant Rao Trophy senior division cricket tournament being played at the Ujjain police grounds.
Resuming the overnight score of 9 for no loss, the visitors lost their first wicket at the score of 23 and the second at the score of 31.
Ujjain bowers bowled well in the first session to dismiss both the openers cheaply. Skipper Santhosh Sau and Sushant Shukla changed their strategy by taking quick singles to put pressure on the fielders.
Sau was brilliant in running between the wickets as he had good understanding partner at the other end. Sushant too was very brisk and they converted the singles into twos and started accelerating the run rate slowly.
Initially, Sau looked uncomfortable but after settling he started blasting all the bowlers. Bilaspur lost the third wicket at the score of 101. Shukla was back in the pavilion after scoring a brisk 40 with seven boundaries.
Rohit joined his skipper and both started consociating the innings. They punished all the loose balls to put Ujjain on the back foot.
Ujjain failed to have the grip after dismissing three batsmen cheaply. They looked lethargic on the field. Taking advantage of this, Sau and Rohit started taking quick singles.
Thursday was Sau’s day, as he batted like a champion. His patience at the wicket yielded fruits. He completed his century in 167 balls with 11 boundaries and one huge six. He scored 150 in 220 balls with 17 hits to the fence.
At the other end, Rohit showed was giving good support to his skipper and their main aim was to take first innings lead and they did it.
Sau hit two spectacular sixes of Prassanna Bhand. Dhruv too completed his 50. At the end of the second day’s play Bilaspur were in drivers seat with 348/3. Sau was going strong at 169 (18x4 &2x6) while Rohit was unbeaten on 85(9x4).
Friday is the last day. Bilaspur will go for quick runs and take huge lead. They will also try for an outright win. Sau, who has taken NOC from Railways, wants to return to MP squad.
One of the Ranji selectors H S Sodhi was watching the match for the last two days and he would note down the brilliant batting by Sau.
Earlier, in the Ranji selection trials Sau scored 78-plus and was in the reserve and this innings would help him come back to the team.