Uttar Pradesh skipper Mohd Kaif’s ploy of putting TNCA President’s XI into bat in the Buchi Babu Trophy final worked wonders on Friday.
The hosts were reduced to 18 for three and although B Indrajith (87) and M Shahrukh Khan (67) scored fighting half-centuries, they were all out for 207. Uttar Pradesh were 59 without loss at the end of the first day of the two-day match.
Due to early morning showers, there must have been some moisture in the wicket. This prompted Kaif to ask TNCA President’s XI to bat first. Opener Abhinav Mukund (0) fell to Amit Mishra and Arun Karthick (2) soon perished to Ankit Rajpoot’s bowling.
Now, the home team was looking towards skipper S Badrinath. But after scoring just five, the India discard was castled by a peach of a delivery from Mishra.
Twin brothers Indrajith and Aparajith did a mini rescue act for the home team. Indrajith, who has been in splendid form in this tournament, was once again in his elements and played his natural game.
Indrajith was positive in his approach and did not hesitate to play shots. This attitude helped him score freely. His cover drive to the fence off a rising delivery off medium-pacer Rajput showcased his excellent footwork and sense of timing. He also played unorthodox left-arm spinner Kuldeep Yadav with aplomb.
Aparajith was a bit subdued. Kaif set an attacking field (two short mid-wickets) for him when Kuldeep was bowling. For a while, Aparajith was defensive but Kuldeep varied the length and induced him to play an uppish drive straight to Kaif at short mid-wicket. The twins added 51 for the fourth-wicket partnership.
Indrajith had another fruitful partnership with Shahrukh, who played orthodox left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar and Kuldeep with ease. Indrajith fell when he failed to read a slower one from Saurabh and was caught and bowled. With just a day remaining, Uttar Pradesh stand a great chance of taking home the trophy.
BRIEF SCORES: TNCA President’s XI 207 in 80.2 overs (B Indrajith 87, M Shahrukh Khan 67; Saurabh Kumar 4/57) vs UPCA 59/0 in 24 overs.