Ranji Trophy: Kuldeep, Ekalavya lead UP revival

Punjab would've fancied shutting Uttar Pradesh for a sub-300 total. But a sixth-wicket stand of 99 between Kuldeep Yadav and Ekalavya Dwivedi helped UP finish at 300 for six on the first day's play.

kuldeep yadav ekalavya dwivedi

Kuldeep Yadav (left) and Ekalavya Dwivedi put on a fighting sixth wicket partnership against Punjab.   -  V. V. Subrahmanyam

All-rounders Ekalavya Dwivedi and Kuldeep Yadav strung an invaluable 99-run sixth wicket partnership, helping Uttar Pradesh recover from 143 for five to 298 for six against Punjab in a Group A match at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here.

Batting first, UP started dismally as skipper Tanmay Srivastava snicked Sandeep Sharma's outswinger to wicketkeeper Gitansh Khera. Soon, the bowler trapped Samarth Singh LBW with a ball that came in sharply.

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Later, Sarfaraz Khan, suffering cramps and looking ill at ease, mistimed a pull to the square-leg fielder off pacer Shubek Singh Gill as UP was reduced to 71 for three in 26th over.

Shubek then broke Umang Sharma and Rinku Singh's 53-run fourth wicket stand with the former edging to the keeper. He then trapped Rinku LBW.

With five wickets down, Punjab captain Yuvraj Singh would've thought of wrapping up UP's lower-order. But the tall Eklavya Dwivedi (60, 77b, 7x4, 1x6) joined by the free-stroking Kuldeep Yadav, frustrated Punjab.

Kuldeep (62 batting, 147b, 3x4, 2x6) was at ease as he stood up to cover drive pacer Sandeep Sharma. His two huge sixes off left-arm spinner Vinay Choudhary was a treat to watch.

Just when UP was hoping to finish the day without losing more wickets, Vinay got rid off the dangerous Dwivedi.

But Saurabh Kumar (39 batting, 45b, 3x4, 2x6), joining Kuldeep, put on an unbeaten 56-run stand for the seventh wicket which ensured that UP finished the day on a highly satisfying note.