Rajat Patidar’s affair with the Garden City continues.
His return to the friendly wicket at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium -- after making a hundred that helped Madhya Pradesh win the Ranji Trophy final against Mumbai back in June -- proved a memorable one on Saturday. His unbeaten 170 (241b, 383min, 14x4, 4x6) helped India-A reach 492 for four, in reply to New Zealand-A’s 400, at stumps on day three of the first ‘Test’.
Patidar wasn’t the only century-maker for the host. Opener Abhimanyu Easwaran, who resumed at the overnight 87 not out and his side 156 for one, went on to score a pleasing 132 (194b, 290min, 13x4, 1x6). His drives on the off-side were especially lovely to watch.
Before he was bowled by left-arm wrist-spinner Michael Rippon, he had added 104 for the fourth wicket with Patidar. That partnership ensured the visitors could not build on the early breakthrough, when they had Ruturaj Gaikwad stumped by Cam Fletcher off the orthodox left-arm spinner Rachi Ravindra in the day’s second over.
New Zealand-A could take only one more wicket, that of Sarfaraz Khan, caught behind off seamer Jacob Duffy for 36. For the prolific Mumbai batter with the astonishing average, it didn’t prove a profitable return to the crease here. And this was his lowest score in his last four First Class matches (after 153, 40 & 59 not out, 134 & 45).
Patidar also reached the middle with as impressive a sequence of scores, which began with that sensational 54-ball 112 not out for Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL eliminator against Lucknow Super Giants. On this day, he showed how he could drop anchor and yet keep the scoreboard moving, as he made most of a dropped catch, when he was on 13.
Walking alongside him back to the dressing room at close of play was Tilak Varma, who also had a great IPL season, with Mumbai Indians. The impressive 19-year-old is batting on 82 (132b, 5x4, 5x6); his unfinished fifth-wicket stand with Patidar is so far worth 167.