Early winter morning, nip in the air and quick fall of wickets often go hand in hand.
On the third day of their Ranji Trophy Super League tie here, the Baroda bowlers used the early morning conditions well to have Uttar Pradesh on the mat. But, their effort came a cropper when UP tail-enders stayed long enough to deny Baroda a first-innings advantage.
The 44 runs that were put together by Praveen Gupta and R.P Singh for the ninth wicket helped UP cross 234 — Baroda’s first innings total. The hosts ended their first innings with a six-run lead.
In fact, UP started badly, losing three wickets after adding just two runs to their overnight score of 36. Tanmany Srivastava was the first to depart. Baroda skipper Irfan Pathan bowled a bouncer and quite cunningly followed it up with a good length delivery that trapped Srivastava leg-before the wicket for 14 — his overnight score. The other opener Shivakant Shukla had added just two to his overnight score of 22, when Munaf Patel struck. A fiery delivery from him clipped his bat and wicketkeeper Pinal Shah performed the last rites.
Skipper Mohammad Kaif too was dismissed by Munaf in the same fashion and UP were tottering at 38/3. UP’s misery was far from over.
Nine minutes later, Baroda consumed their fourth victim. Parvinder Singh’s slow reflexes got the better of him. The poor batsman was trying to leave Munaf, but the delivery caved in and brushed his gloves; the rest is history.
Suresh Raina and young Bhuvneshwar Kumar tried to provide some stability. Their partnership did get going to some extent before Raina threw away his wicket to Irfan. While attempting a big hit, he top edged towards mid-wicket where Rakesh Solanki made no mistake. Raina made 30 and the scoreboard read a dismal 89/5. Their 41-run partnership lasted 73 minutes. Soon Bhuvneshwar too was warming the benches, run out on 29.
Post lunch, the situation improved for UP with Piyush Chawla and Amir Khan playing with determination. While Khan made sure that none of his shots took the aerial route, Chawla got the scoreboard ticking.
A big six off Yusuf not only eased the pressure off Chawla but also paved the way for his meticulous 65 scored off 81 balls. His innings was punctuated by two sixes and five boundaries.
But, as soon as he departed — bowled out by Yusuf — with the scoreboard reading 193/7, the slide started again.
Khan fell to Murtaja Vahora on 29 and the tail caved in, but it wagged just enough to deny the opposition any lead. Praveen Gupta (32) and R.P. Singh (13 n.o.) stayed on the crease for 44 minutes scoring identical runs for the ninth wicket.
At stumps, Baroda were batting on 60/3 in 27 overs.