Inexperienced bowling was always going to be Baroda’s Achilles heel despite the four-pronged pace attack and Andhra skipper Hanuma Vihari along with Ricky Bhui exposed that weakness as they put up a mammoth 308-run stand for the third wicket to take the first innings lead on day three.
Andhra ended the day on 505 for nine with a lead of 132 runs going into the final day’s play in this Group C encounter. For Baroda, pacer Atit Sheth was the standout performer with a five-wicket haul.
Resuming on 190 for two, Vihari and Bhui frustrated the host in the opening session. The visitor started briskly in the opening overs finding the fence five times in the first eight overs before Baroda bowlers settled into rhythm bowling some tight lines without giving width to let the batsman free their hands.
But the batsmen were up to the task, patiently giving the respect to the bowlers. At times, the host was a bit unlucky with edges flying through the gaps between slip cordon or falling slight wide of the fielders but the slip fielders were often guilty of reacting late and leaking boundaries through the third man region.
Just an hour before lunch, Vihari, who was meandering in his 80’s stepped up a notch, finding boundaries either side of the gully fielder of consecutive deliveries off pacer Babasafi Pathan to move to 96.
Vihari reached his century of 187 balls with 16 boundaries. Bhui at the other end too started picking boundaries with ease using the horizontal bat shots effectively.
In the 75th over, Bhui produced another pull, this time getting on top of the ball and rolling it through square leg to get to his hundred.
In the post lunch session, Baroda preferred to operate with spinners Swapnil Singh and Yusuf Pathan for 16 overs before the second new ball was taken after the 100th over.
Vihari used the late cut to effective use and kept finding the boundaries with little risk to bring up his 150.
With the new ball, Lukman Meriwala struck removing Bhui bowled before Sheth removed D.B. Ravi Teja and Vihari, bowled likewise.
Andhra had a collapse in the session going from 370 for two to 380 for six.
However, I. Kumar Raman and then B. Ayyappa along with B. Sumanth, who remains unbeaten, produced two crucial partnerships - 57 for the seventh wicket and 56 for the ninth wicket respectively - in the last session to take the lead past 100.
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