RAJASTHAN BATSMEN on Sunday chased a huge target of 294 set by host Madhya Pradesh and won the match by six wickets in the Central Zone Ranji one-day match at Usha Raje Cricket grounds.
Host skipper Abbas Ali won the toss and opted to bat on a good batting wicket, but opener Naman Ojha once again failed. During his brief stay he was dropped at gully off Pankaj Singh but he could score only one.
Shan-e-Alam, in his debut match, also failed to impress and was back in the pavilion after scoring just nine runs with one boundary. MP were suddenly with their backs to the wall with the team score reading 2/37. At the other end, Mohanish Mishra batted brilliantly but the ever consistent host skipper Abbas was run out in a mix up for mere nine runs.
Devendra Bundela joined Mohnish and both the batsmen showed their class and runs started flowing freely. Mohnish, who is in good form this season, completed his 50 off 63 balls with nine hits to the ropes but was out scoring three more runs after his half century. MP were 98 for four.
Shadab Khan, also making his debut, gave good support to Bundela and both took the score to 155. Both the batsmen added 71 runs for the fifth wicket. Shadab scored 35 in 45 balls with two boundaries. At the other end Bundela completed coveted half century in 63 balls with nine boundaries. Experienced Brijesh Tomar walked in and showed his patience in staying at the middle but kept punishing the loose balls.
With the score at 226, MP got a jolt as Bundela was back in the pavilion after scoring a brisk 71 off 77 balls with six fours and three sixes. Bundela added 71 runs off 55 balls for the sixth wicket in partnership with Brijesh. Brijesh scored brisk 40 off 35 balls before being dismissed with the team score reading 245/7.
The tail enders swung their bat to score from 245/7 in 46.6 overs to 294/9 in 50 overs. Sunil Dholpure scored 22 from 13 balls, T Sudheendra scored 13 from four balls and Sanjay Pandey blasted unbeaten 16 off seven balls.
Shailendra Ghelot 2/52 and Afroz Khan 2/60 were the main wicket takers for Rajasthan. The target of 295 was high and the holiday crowd presumed that the hosts would win comfortably.
But Rajasthan openers Siddharth Joshi and Rohit Sharma made merry and scored 142 for the first wicket in 24.6 overs. Rohit (102) hit a brilliant century, while Sidharth Joshi scored 72.
The solid first wicket partnership sealed MP’s fate and they could not come back into the game as host medium pacers Sanjay Pandey, T Sudheenra and Sunil Dholpure could not bowl to a line and length and allowed the opponent batsmen to score freely and surpass the huge target of 294.
Rohit and Siddharth batted freely and in 7.4 overs they blasted 50 runs and the 100 came in just 15.2 overs. The remaining batsmen followed the suit and never allowed MP bowlers to come back into the game and won the game losing only three more wickets.
Nikhil Doru scored brisk 41 in 37 balls, Robin Bisht scored unbeaten 39 in 40 balls and Afroz Khan scored unbeaten 14 to set up the win by six wickets to snatch four points in their first encounter.
M P skipper Abbas Ali, speaking to Hindustan Times, said that their opening bowlers bowled very badly. He said the team’s ground fielding was not up to the mark and they could not put pressure on the opponent despite scoring 294 runs.
MP coach Balwinder Singh Sandhu said that MP lost the match in the first 10 overs of the Rajasthan innings.
It was a bad day for the bowlers as the same bowlers who did brilliantly this season bowled badly. Their fielding and field placements were also poor and the team will have to work hard in coming matches.