Madhya Pradesh opener Sumit Kushwah put his team in the driver’s seat with a well-crafted unbeaten century (100 batting, 269b, 10x4, 1x6) against Delhi on the opening day of the Take Sports All India Buchi Babu tournament final here on Friday.
Electing to bat, MP finished on a strong 271 for three thanks to valuable half-centuries from opener Arham Aqueel (65) and later Aniket Verma (68).
It was the second century in as many games for the 21-year-old after he scored a century against TNCA XI in the semifinals in Dindigul last week. The youngster looked compact in his defence and took his time in slowly accumulating runs.
On an easy batting surface at the Sri Ramakrishna College ground, MP had no hesitation in batting first, and Aqueel led the way for his side with two crisp cover drives in the first over off left-arm pacer Siddhant Sharma.
Kushwah and the left-handed Aqueel set the platform with a 110-run opening wicket stand, with the latter scoring most of it, playing some clean drives through the off-side.
Later, Aniket Verma boosted the scoring rate as he took on the spinners by lofting them down the ground repeatedly in a 115-run stand for the third wicket with Kushwah.
In the final session, Kushwah played with more freedom, cutting and pulling the spinners whenever they erred in length.
It was a hard toil for the Delhi bowlers, and things could have been different had Arpit Rana held on to a sharp chance at short-leg when Kushwah was on 53 off Hrithik Shokeen.
Buchi Babu helped us evaluate our backups: Pandit
With Madhya Pradesh starting on the right note in the final against Delhi, head coach Chandrakant Pandit was pleased with the showing of his young side in reaching the final.
“The tournament has helped us to evaluate back-up options for every spot and test our bench strength. I am happy we have reached the finals with a young team,” said Pandit.
Commenting on Sumit Kushwah’s second ton, Pandit added, “He has always shown potential and displayed great determination today. Even though he has taken a lot of balls to score the centuries, he has shown the skill of staying in the crease, and that is how he will gain confidence.”
Meanwhile, Kushwah said, “I just followed the plans given by the coach, which is to bat long. It is the final, and I wanted to give the side a good start. Considering this is a four-day match, I didn’t take risks when they were bowling well.”
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