After a session of high voltage batting which defied expectations of the green track, Vidarbha spinners struck at regular intervals to bowl out Rest of India (ROI) for 330 on the opening day of the Z.R.Irani Cup cricket tournament at the VCA stadium here on Tuesday.
It all began ominously for Vidarbha in the morning as the mainstay of its batting, Wasim Jaffer, failed a fitness test and was ruled out. After losing the toss, Mayank Agarwal’s blitz in the opening session pulverised the Ranji champion but led by its spinners Vidarbha fought back by taking nine wickets in the post lunch session. ROI slipped from an imperious 171 for one to 258 for seven before Hanuma Vihari (114) in company of tailenders took the total to beyond 300 runs.
Vidarbha spinners weren’t spectacular but were persistent enough to induce mistakes from the batsmen. Akshay Wakhare (three for 62) was the pick of the lot and he found good support from Aditya Sarwate (three for 99).
Vihari, who played an innings of controlled aggression, had a slice of luck on 29 when his tentative prod off Sarwate fell short of Fazal who claimed the catch. The batsman was ruled not out after it was referred. However, Sarwate got lucky second time when he got one to bounce and turn and had the settled batsman caught in the slips by Fazal.
Earlier, Agarwal (95) was on song as his authoritative stroke play made the Vidarbha bowling look innocuous. Rajneesh Gurbani’s wayward first over set the trend as ROI’s opening pair Agarwal and Anmolpreet feasted on some wayward bowling to add 46 runs for the first wicket in quick time.
However, Rajneesh found one to nip back and cleaned up Anmolpreet for 16. Vihari was circumspect at the start but gradually the strokes started flowing against the spinners and along with Agarwal put the attack to sword. Agarwal, who looked set for a century, checked the drive and was caught at mid-off by Gurbani off Yash Thakur.
Agarwal’s dismissal started the slide. Captain Rahane (13) struggled and his misery ended when he pushed tentatively to Sarwate and Sanjay at short gully juggled with the ball before cupping the catch. Shreyas Iyer looked in ominous touch and played the big shots off the spinners but was trapped lbw when he played the wrong line to Karnewar.
Ishan Kishan and K.Gowtham went into aggressive mode too early in their innings and perished to catches in the deep. But in the end Rahul Chahar (22) and Ankit Rajpoot (25) yielded the long handle to good effect and added respectability to the total.