BENGALURU: In a dramatic comeback, Hyderabad beat Andhra by 14 runs in the quarterfinals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy at Just Cricket Ground here on Monday. Chasing a target of 282, Andhra were comfortably placed at 198/2 after 36.3 overs. But it was the brilliance of Mohammed Siraj (3/50) which helped Hyderabad reach semifinals. From 198/2, Andhra lost seven wickets in quick successions and ended up with the total of 267/9 in 50 overs.
But throughout the match, the Ambati Rayudu-led side looked high on team spirit. This was evident with the way the players were constantly cheering the teammates. The team never looked like giving up. All these factors would have encouraged Siraj, who picked two crucial wickets and conceded only 19 runs in his second spell, which comprised of five overs. He removed the set batsmen Hanuma Vihari for 95 — the skipper was also the top-scorer for Andhra — and Ricky Bhui for 52. He made good use of the reverse swing as well. There is an air of confidence in his bowling now, which is evident with the way he runs in and bowls at a good pace.
The pacer has been in tremendous form of late. In his recent outings with India A, he picked up 44 wickets against Australia A, England A and also impressed in quadrangular series. Following which he received a maiden call-up to the Indian Test team against the West Indies but did not feature in any of the two Tests. With the inclusion of Siraj and Rayudu — the right-hand batsman joined the team after the Asia Cup campaign in UAE — the team was strong on paper.
“Players like Rayudu and Siraj add value to the team. Siraj is someone who is hungry for success. It was wonderful to see him use reverse swing in his second spell. The confidence that he has gained after his good performances in the last few months is very evident. When the captain also shows faith in him, it plays a huge role in winning matches,” said Hyderabad coach Arjun Yadav.
Though Siraj might have played an important role in the team’s victory, he was also assisted by conditions. This was in stark contrast to what Hyderabad had played in New Delhi during their group stage encounters. While the pitches in New Delhi suited spinners, the Just Cricket Ground pitch helped pacers.
“The wickets are conducive to fast bowling here and the pacers in the team also enjoyed bowling since there was some assistance. It’s always good to see a fast bowler getting wickets and the victory was special for us,” added the coach.