Andhra’s sustained pace attack restricted Madhya Pradesh to 219 for five on the opening day of its Ranji Trophy group C cricket match at the Dr. P.V.G. Raju-ACA Sports Complex here on Wednesday. Yarra Prithviraj with a haul of three for 35 was the pick of the home side’s bowlers.
Andhra chose to field on a firm and bouncy track. Backed by a four-slip cordon, Bandaru Ayyappa got the ball to rise from a good length a few times. Left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt’s introduction with the shine barely off the ball, half-an-hour into the game didn’t pay off.
Prithviraj replaced him from the pavilion end to exploit what was left of the early morning conditions. A hostile leg side line landed the spoils for the left-arm paceman in his second over itself. Aditya Shrivastava played across to a chest high offering and nicked to K.S. Bharat behind the stumps.
Post lunch, Prithviraj picked up the threads from the G.V. Ramachandra Raju Academy end, his assault as intimidating as that of the morning. In the bid to fend off the southpaw’s snorter, Rajat Patidar’s mishit pull ballooned to the fine leg region where K.V. Sasikanth took an easy catch.
The lanky speedster then leapt upwards to latch on to an off-drive from Shubham Sharma off Bhatt. The one-down batsman had aimed to send it over the top but Sasikanth at mid-off plucked the ball with a well-judged overhead catch. Sharma’s 105-ball 60, studded with eight boundaries helped stitch useful partnerships of 68 runs for the second wicket with Patidar and 39 for the third with Naman Ojha.
UP’s captain Devendra Bundela didn’t last long, his flick off Prithvi was caught by wicketkeeper Bharat diving to his left. Bundela’s deputy Harpreet Singh Bhatia made amends though, combining well with Ojha, until the latter fell, his miscued hook held by Ayyappa at fine leg off Sasikanth.
The left-handed duo of Bhatia and Ankit Sharma then dug itself in, preventing further damage when negotiating an accurate attack in fast fading light. Owing to reduced visibility, play was called off an over short of the stipulated 90.
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