Ranji Trophy: Frustrated by opposition lower-order, Andhra builds strong reply

Hanuma Vihari digs in to lay the foundation for Andhra’s strong retort to Baroda’s 373.

Swapnil Singh was a thorn in the flesh of Andhra on Sunday.   -  Basheer

Swapnil Singh and Atit Seth stitched a brilliant partnership of 139 runs for the eighth wicket to enable Baroda to put up a competitive 373. But Andhra, led by its skipper Hanuma Vihari, managed a strong reply, posting 190 for 2 by stumps on Day Two.

Vihari was unbeaten on 71 while Ricky Bhui, who went about his innings too quietly, remained at the crease on 53 with the duo having added 128 runs so far for the third wicket. It could have been different for Baroda had Yusuf Pathan held on to a sharp chance at second slip in the last over of the day when Vihari edged a delivery by pacer Lukman Meriwala.

Chasing a huge total, Andhra batsmen came out attacking with openers Sreekar Bharat and D. B. Prashanth Kumar having a go at the Baroda bowlers. The visitor maintained a brisk run-rate of five till the 27th over. Bharat made a quickfire 40 off just 38 balls before being caught at short midwicket with substitute Ketul Patel taking a good catch, timing his jump to perfection.

Vihari continued to bat aggressively and with the help of Bhui kept the scoreboard ticking at a brisk rate. In the 19 overs before tea, Andhra slammed 15 boundaries. Baroda tightened things in the final session but Andhra still managed to wipe out more than 50 per cent of the chase in just 46 overs, scoring at 4.13 per over.

Wagging tail

Earlier, Baroda’s overnight batsmen Swapnil and Atit looked assured in the middle, scoring briskly. and never gave a chance to the opposition. Both batsmen showed great technique in swaying against some persistent short-pitch bowling from the Andhra pacers and never looked in trouble.

Swapnil started the day with a delightful back-foot punch through covers in the first over of the day before he produced couple of beautiful straight drives as he reached his fifty. Neither Swapnil nor Atit, who slammed a ton against MP in the previous match, shied away from playing their shots.

Post his fifty, Swapnil cut loose, bringing even the reverse sweep into effective use. With just half hour to lunch, Swapnil sent Bhatt over the long-on fence to move to 88 but the bowler came back in the same over with a good delivery, finding some extra bounce to remove Singh caught at first slip.

Post lunch, Andhra quickly removed the two tailenders and went about its chase aggressively. It has provided a good platform for side going into the third day.

Brief Scores

Baroda 373 in 128 overs (Kedar Devdhar 93, Vishnu Solanki 61, Swapnil Singh 88, Atit Sheth 70 not out, Bandaru Ayyappa four for 69) v Andhra 190 for two in 46 overs (K.S. Bharath 40, Hanuma Vihari 71 batting, Ricky Bhui 53 batting).

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