Uttar Pradesh were staring down the barrel after Maharashtra set them a mammoth target of 422 runs. The visitors had though knocked off 41 runs from the target without loss at the draw of stumps on Thursday, they still 381 runs on the final day.
Resuming at 102 for 2, the hosts declared at 338 for 9 in their second essay. It was largely Sangram Atitkar’s valiant 95 that saw them reach the competitive total.
Earlier in the morning, Praveen Kumar generated some swing in the first few overs, but failed to sustain it over a longer period. To make the matter worse, there was little movement off the wicket, and the bounce, too, was quite even.
Nevertheless, Kedar Jadhav, the other overnight batsman, began cautiously with Atitkar. The duo, who had formed the backbone of Maharashtra’s first innings, again began the groundwork in right earnest. They employed hook and cut to good effect as the bowlers made generous use of bouncers and short-pitched stuff. Failing to lure either of the two into anything silly, the bowlers gradually began to lose their calm and composure. They, however, didn’t give up altogether, and got their reward in the 51st over when RP Singh forced an edge off Jadhav to Mohammed Kaif in the slips. RP Singh then struck Atitkar on his helmet in his next over, but the batsman remained unruffled, and unleashed a fiendish cover drive in the very next ball.
With the speedsters proving ineffective, Kaif pressed Chawla into the attack. The moved paid off as the leggie lured Atitkar into spooning a simple return catch to cut short his fine innings.
Chawla continued troubling the batsmen right through, and finished with an impressive five-wicket haul.
Praveen Kumar gave UP chase a flying start. He sailed to an unbeaten 23 in just 31 deliveries. He smote Samad Fallah for a towering six over midwicket in the first over and tonked Kiran Adhav over long off for another.
He, however, got a life when Adhav dropped a catch off Jitendra Patil at long off.