Spinners wreck MP as Andhra clinches playoff spot

Having collected 26 points in the tourney, Andhra is now safely through to the playoffs.

Hanuma Vihari finished with figures of 3 for 31. (File Photo)   -  G.P. Sampath Kumar

Mohammed Shoaib Khan (4 for 16) and Hanuma Vihari (3 for 31) rattled Madhya Pradesh’s batsmen with their off-spin bowling to help Andhra claim a seven-wicket victory in a Group ‘B’ Vijay Hazare Trophy clash at the Air Force Complex, here. Having collected 26 points in the tourney, Andhra is now safely through to the playoffs.

Madhya Pradesh, choosing to bat, never got going in its innings, and was bowled out for 155. The rot started early. The team was reduced to 12 for two in the second over as openers Naman Ojha and Ankush Singh were dismissed leg-before-wicket by seamer K.V. Sasikanth.

Middle-order batsmen Anand Singh Bais (70, 103b, 7X4) and Yash Dubey (25, 50b, 1X4) led a slow recovery, content for the most part in turning deliveries to leg for singles or defending deliveries. Despite being set, however, they had a couple of reprieves, including a catch dropped by Ricky Bhui in the 21st over.

AS IT HAPPENED: Vijay Hazare 2018-19

The unravelling began in the next over. The set Dubey was caught by Ashwin Hebbar in the in-field, off Shoaib. Vihari disallowed the middle order from settling in by taking a couple of wickets. Anshul Tripathi, in trying to play a drive, edged behind, and Venkatesh Iyer, after playing a quiet innings of 14, was caught and bowled.

All hopes were pinned on Anand, who had reached a half-century, but he made a fatal mistake off left-arm spinner Manish Golamaru, leaving his side in tatters. He smashed a long hop straight to the extra cover fielder Sasikanth.

Sasikanth was to feature in two more dismissals as a fielder as Shoaib ran through the tail. The catch to dismiss No. 9 Mihir Hirwani was an acrobatic one; he followed the eluding ball at the mid-wicket region and made a dive to hold on.

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After the contest, Shoaib praised the catch and paid tribute to the fielder. “I have never seen a more energetic fast bowler, who has so much energy even after bowling his overs. That’s why we always keep him in the infield,” he said. Along with his two wickets upfront, Sasikanth had a memorable match.

Even after MP’s collapse, the victory could not have been taken for granted, however. Opener Ashwin Hebbar indulged in a few boundaries via good-looking strokes - a cut, a pull and a lofted stroke early on were especially attractive. But, his team’s batsmen struggled to play left-arm spinner Kumar Kartikeya Singh, who got all three batsmen to fall to him, bowled.

Off-spinner Saransh Jain joined his partner and troubled the batsmen for some time. Bhui (56, 74b, 4X4, 2X6) was shaky early on and survived two confident shouts for lbw. In the end, though, Bhui negotiated the tough period safely, grafting alongside B. Sumanth (46, 60b, 5X4, 1X6), who started attacking the spinners. The duo confidently provided the finishing touches, appropriately ending what was a successful first-round for the side.

BRIEF SCORES

Madhya Pradesh 155 in 41.4 overs (Anand Singh Bais 70, Shoaib Mohammed Khan 4 for 16, Hanuma Vihari 3 for 31) lost to Andhra 156 for 3 in 34.5 overs (Ricky Bhui 56 n.o., B. Sumanth 46 n.o., Kumar Kartikeya Singh 3 for 28) by 7 wickets.