Ranji Trophy: Daunting task awaits Andhra on final day

Andhra finished Day 3 at 177 for one bowling out Services for 446 and still needs 270 runs on the final day to get a first innings lead and pocket the all-important three points from the Ranji Trophy encounter.

Rahul Singh Ranji Trophy

Rahul Singh who scored a century against Andhra in the Group C Ranji Trophy match at Holkar stadium at Indore on Monday.   -  J.R. Shridharan

An attractive 90 by Andhra opener D.B. Prasanth Kumar (236b, 325m, 10x4, 1x6) and his 80-run opening wicket partnership with K.S. Bharat (42, 86b, 91m, 5x4) helped Andhra finish at 177 for one in 79 overs at the penultimate day of the Group ‘C’ Ranji Trophy tie at Holkar Stadium here on Monday. Earlier, Services was all out for 446 in 188.5 overs. >

>SCORECARD

Andhra, to clinch the crucial first innings lead, has the task cut on the final day on a pitch which is gradually beginning to assist the spinners. The niggling back sprain which forced skipper Hanuma Vihari not to continue batting after tea will be a cause of worry. Andhra still needs 270 runs to pocket the all-important three points.

Both Bharat and Prasanth gave their team a flying start by freely scoring against the pacers. They took advantage of the well-spread-out field and found the gaps with precision in the pre-lunch session.

At lunch, Andhra was 60 no loss.

Bharat dropped twice

Post lunch session saw Bharat living dangerously and the poor anticipation by overnight centurion Shamsher Yadav at the first slip gave two reprieves to Andhra opener. However, Bharat did not last long as he was bowled by left-arm spinner V .U. Yadav who spun one in sharply.

Undeterred, Prasanth gradually grew in confidence and played his natural game with aplomb. He brought out his fifty – his fifth of the season — in an authoritative manner by hoisting left-arm spinner Azaruddin Bloch for a huge six over long on. Once again, it was Shamsher Yadav who, for the third time, floored a catch at the extra cover to let Prasanth off the hook. Disaster struck Andhra when Hanuma Vihari, who was at unbeaten 18, did not continue his batting owing to back sprain.

Resuming at 400 for eight, Rahul Singh (127), who was unbeaten at 95, went on to complete his hundred, the second of the season. His first one (185) came against Tripura early last month.