Ranji Trophy: Kuldeep Yadav shines for UP

Kuldeep Yadav ended with figures of 4/46 as Mumbai was dismissed for 233 in its first innings.

Kuldeep Yadav was the star bowler for UP on a turning pitch.   -  Special Arrangement

Based on the form and team line-ups, an aficionado — and there are a few of domestic cricket — would have billed the Ranji Trophy Group A game between table-topper Mumbai and underperforming Uttar Pradesh as one between the former’s batsmen versus the UP pacers.

But considering the wicket that was softer than the one used for the last wicket, it was the spinners who walked away with a major chunk of the 11 wickets that fell on the opening day at the Srikantadatta Narasimha Raja Wadeyar Ground.

Thanks to Kuldeep Yadav’s chinamen ably supported by Saurabh Kumar’s left-arm orthodox spin, Uttar Pradesh restricted Mumbai to 233 in its first innings. But the Bhuvneshwar Kumar-led side couldn’t make it an ideal day as it lost seasoned opener Tanmay Srivastava, whose off-stump went cartwheeling with a peach from Tushar Deshpande. Had Australian umpire Sam Nogajski upheld a confident caught-behind shout against Samarth Singh, then UP would have been in a much worse shape than its eventual score of 22 for one.

The day belonged to the Yadavs from either side. While Kuldeep continued his wicket-taking form of the season, his surname-sake from Mumbai — Suryakumar — fell agonisingly short on registering second hundred in as many games. However, Suryakumar’s 99 before he missed an audacious sweep off part-timer offie Shivam Chaudhary to be adjudged leg-before shaped up the Mumbai innings as it kept losing wickets frequently.

Suryakumar’s innings was in contrast with his overtly patient 110 against Railways last week. He left the ball outside off well but didn’t miss out on any scoring opportunity, even while losing partners at the other end. His straight-drives off the lanky Ankit Rajpoot and cover drives off both the left-arm spinners were a treat to watch for a handful of Sunday crowd that had gathered on the steps in the stands.

Once Suryakumar became the seventh Mumbai wicket to go down, Kuldeep, who had forced a nick off Mumbai captain Aditya Tare’s willow in his first over after the lunch break, came into action big time. He bamboozled the tail with his uncanny yet accurate bowling, thus preventing debutant Aditya Dhumal from adding more valuable runs down the order.

Kuldeep was also supported by aggressive field placements by Bhuvneshwar on his captaincy debut. Not just for the spinners, but even for pacers early on, Bhuvneshwar persisted with a 7-2 off-side field, thus tempting Shreyas Iyer into a false stroke. As for his bowling, Bhuvneshwar bowled quick and troubled the Mumbai openers in an opening spell of 4-4-0-0. He changed ends after short break for another five-over spell and returned immediately after lunch for another four-over burst.