Ranji Trophy: Vidarbha closes in on big win

Pace spearhead Umesh Yadav accounts for three vital breakthroughs to leave Team Uttarakhand struggling to avoid an innings defeat.

Too hot to handle: Umesh Yadav rattled Team Uttarakhand’s top order with his pace and swing. Photo: S. Sudarshan

Aditya Sarvate and Umesh Yadav lit up the penultimate day’s play of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal to put Vidarbha on track for what is likely to be an innings win against Team Uttarakhand at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium on Friday.

Sarvate, the all-rounder, converted his unbeaten half-century into a second first-class hundred in the morning to help Vidarbha amass its highest total in Ranji Trophy history. With a sizeable lead of 274 runs, Yadav, the pace spearhead, gave Vidarbha three vital breakthroughs with his raw pace before Sarvate, the left-arm spinner, struck with the ball at the end of the day.

Thanks to a wicket each by Yadav and Sarvate off what turned out to be the last two deliveries of the day, Uttarakhand was in a spot of bother at 152 for five, in need of 122 runs more to make Vidarbha bat again.

Castled: Umesh Yadav has Vaibhav Bhatt out bowled. Photo: S. Sudarshan

 

First, Yadav beat Avneesh Sudha for pace, and had him dismissed bowler, and then Sarvate, off his own bowling, plucked a catch off a fiercely struck drive from Vaibhav Panwar. It was a nicely judged catch; Sarvate lunged to his left in his follow-through to complete it.

Disciplined openers

For much of the day, however, Uttarakhand fought hard. Openers Vineet Saxena and Karanveer Kaushal started the second dig on a promising note. In order to avoid an outright loss and end its maiden Ranji season with heads held high, Uttarakhand required to bat time after Vidarbha’s first innings eventually folded up for a gargantuan 629 in the morning session.

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With half an hour remaining for lunch, Saxena and Kaushal, despite being in the field for a whopping 184 overs, concentrated hard and played out seven maidens by accurate Rajneesh Gurbani and Suniket Bingewar.

When Yadav was introduced in the 11th over, with the speedster bowling at full steam, the Uttarakhand duo stuttered but survived his initial four-over onslaught on a pitch that finally started showing signs of wear and tear. So disciplined were Saxena and Kaushal that they waited for the first run on the board for 44 balls and the first boundary for 98 balls. They then saw off the afternoon session to see their team through to 69 for no loss at tea.

Floodgates

But Yadav’s fiery spell of 6-2-17-2 opened the floodgates for Vidarbha. He first jagged one slightly back to trap Saxena lbw and then had Vaibhav Bhatt — who was injured by a Yadav delivery in the first innings and unable to don the wicketkeeping gloves — bowled, his off-stump cartwheeling.

Among the runs: After a dry spell of two months, Aditya Sarvate returned to form with a century in the quarterfinal. Photo: S. Sudarshan

 

Kaushal, then, started opening his arms and went after Sarvate. But the bearded spinner had the last laugh; he pitched one in the rough outside leg-stump and the ball crashed into the off-stump when Kaushal shouldered arms. The visiting team was put further into disarray with twin blows by Yadav and Sarvate.

Aditya Sarvate: 'Delighted to have scored a hundred'

The moment he drove Malolan Rangarajan through covers for his 11th four, Aditya Sarvate took his helmet off, raised both his hands in the air before picking the bat up, waving it at the Vidarbha change-room and stomping the wood into the ground as if to make it a point “I can bat”.

His gesture left the Vidarbha dressing room in splits with trainer Amiykumar Mohanty wearing the widest grin.

“Our warm-up game of football before the start of every day’s play is usually between bowlers and batsmen. And the the trainer always puts me in the bowlers’ list, so it was a reminder to him that I can find a place in the batting group,” revealed Sarvate, the bearded all-rounder, after starring in all departments on the fourth day of Vidarbha’s Ranji Trophy quarterfinal contest.

With 41 scalps, Sarvate has been Vidarbha’s highest wicket-taker of the season. But having registered his only previous fifty two months ago, Sarvate couldn’t have asked for a better stage to return to form with the willow.

“I hadn’t scored much in the last few games, so I am delighted to have scored a hundred in the quarterfinal. It will hopefully hold me in good stead to help the team achieve the ultimate goal of winning the title.”

Brief Scores
  • Team Uttarakhand 355 and 152 for 5 (Karanveer Kaushal 76, Umesh Yadav 3 for 22) trails Vidarbha 629 by 122 runs.