Devendra Bundela (106 batting; 321b, 402m, 11x4, 2x6) seems to have a special liking for Hyderabad. The 35-year-old Madhya Pradesh skipper cracked his fourth century in five matches against Hyderabad to help his side score 265 for 5 in 110 overs on the penultimate day of the Group ‘A’ Ranji Trophy league match at Uppal Stadium on Sunday. The visitors are just 76 runs away from taking the all-important first innings lead with five wickets in hand.
Hyderabad had made 341 in their first innings.
After some hiccups at the start at 44 for 3 on Saturday, MP, led by Bundela, seized the initiative from the home side. They lost only two more wickets and added 221 runs to take the third day’s honours. The Hyderabad bowlers flattered to deceive. In a marked contrast to Saturday’s penetrative bowling, the Hyderabad attack was ordinary today.
To add to their woes, the wicket played easy on the third day.
There was one miss and it could prove costly in the end. Left-arm spinner Lalith Mohan grassed a return catch offered by Bundela, who was on 76 then. There were more worries for Hyderabad as skipper VVS Laxman, who was troubled by back pain in the middle of his century knock, could not take the field and instead DB Ravi Teja led the team.
But it was Bundela’s day. Coming into the match with scores of 113, 144 and 121 in four matches, the middle-order batsman continued to make merry against the Hyderabad attack. With the visitors struggling, Bundela stood tall with a composed batting to steer the ship out of the troubled waters. When play resumed on third day, Bundela and Udit Birla (52) took the aggressive route. The fourth-wicket pair realized 108 runs before the home side got the first breakthrough when Naidu had Birla caught and bowled.
However, left-arm seamer MA Khader bowled a disappointing line though in one spell he removed Anand Singh with an angled delivery. But thereafter Bundela and Jalaj Saxena (61 batting; 113b, 7x4) dominated the post-lunch session to put MP on top.