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UP take Day One honours

Mohammad Kaif missed what could have been a fine hundred, but UP were still in a strong position on Day 1 of the Ranji final.

india Updated: Jan 30, 2006 16:34 IST

Ifcatches win matches, Bengal will either have to get better in this department or rely more on others to turn things in their favour in the Ranji Trophy final. Uttar Pradesh took full advantage of some sloppy work in the slips to be on course for a giant total on the opening day on Sunday.
At stumps, UP were 299 for the loss of three wickets.

What will rankle the visitors most is that all the batsmen they dropped went on to add substantially to their totals. Opener Praveen Kumar's wild slash off Ranadeb Bose was spilled by Subhomoy Das at first slip with the batsman on five and Mohammad Kaif had 22 when offered a life by Manoj Tewari at second slip off Shib Sankar Paul.

Paul was the unlucky one again on a dead track, when Arindam Das at first slip failed to latch on to an edge from Suresh Raina when on 28. The left-hander drove the bowler to the left and right of mid-off for successive fours in the same over to rub salt on Bengal's injury.

And though these are early days on a pitch unlikely to be unkind on batsmen, the way Rizwan Shamshad faced the tiring medium-pacers without a helmet despite becoming the target of some short-pitched stuff showed which team has won the psychological battle.

It was the home team's turn to prove that they have enough steel to go with the spring Kaif's presence adds to their heels. They were lucky to win the toss, but started showing from the first ball they were brave too to earn the luck. It was a bold move to promote Kumar the medium-pacer who usually bats at No. 7 or 8.

UP's most successful bowler this season slashed the first ball of the day over slips for four and there was no change in his intentions through the remaining part of his 55-ball innings. The opening bowlers were disciplined in their early overs, but apart from the odd poke-and-miss outside off, there was no cause for alarm for the batsmen.

The home team started concentrating on playing safe after the brisk start. Kumar's opening partner Shivakant Shukla was a study in contrast as he played like a batsman who usually plays in that position.

The under-22 left-hander did get a few streaky boundaries past gully, but looked solid overall and showed good temperament.His association with Kaif fetched UP 123 runs for the second wicket and the captain too played a watchful innings. Paul troubled him often in his spells after lunch during which the batsman was dropped.

It was a lion-hearted perform ance from the bowler whose ability to bowl long spells belies his burly figure. It's unfortunate that the scorecard won't reflect his commitment and ability to cause concerns to batsmen on an unresponsive pitch.

But Kaif played the kind of innings that characterises his cricket - he kept working hard, ran the singles like only he can, and underlined once again that application and determination can often make a big difference. It wasn't a pretty innings, but he set an example with his tenacity that his teammates followed.

The captain looked set for his third Ranji Trophy hundred before Shivsagar Singh's teasing line undid him.

The left-arm spinner started pitching it wide of leg stump from over the wicket and despite being warned by the umpire got the big wicket when the ball ricocheted onto the stumps off the batsman's pad.

The final session was the only one of the day that saw some flawless and elegant stroke making. Raina looked in supreme form and stood out for driving the medium-pacers through the off side with great panache.

After completing a sparkling 50 off 62 balls, this left-hander responded to his team's need and concentrated on playing out the remaining overs instead of getting carried away. This ability to play according to the situation will determine the course of this game, and for Bengal, they will have to do it and more to stand a chance of making a match of this. On Day 1, they did persevere, but failed to produce this "more" bit.

Scoreboard:

Uttar Pradesh (1st innings): Praveen Kumar c Das b Lahiri 48, Shivakant Shukla c Gavaskar b Singh 71, Mohammad Kaif b Singh 92, Suresh Raina batting 61, Rizwan Shamshad batting 18; Extras: (b-3, lb-4, nb-2) 9 Total: (for 3 wkts, 90 overs) 299.

Fall of wkts: 1-72, 2-195, 3-258.

Bowling: S Sankar Paul 27-388-0, Ranadeb Bose 15-2-51-0, Laxmi Ratan Shukla 2-0-8-0, Sourashish Lahiri 20-3-63-1, Shivsagar Singh 23-4-59-2, Abhishek Jhunjhunwala 1-0-13-0, Manoj Tewari 1-0-5-0, Rohan Gavaskar 1-0-5-0.

First Published: Jan 30, 2006 11:01 IST