Ranji Trophy: Draw ensures passage into knockout stage for Hyderabad

Hyderabad hung on to draw the match and made it to the knockout stage after having finished second from the bottom in the tournament last season.

S. Badrinath

Hyderabad survived through a dogged show by S. Badrinath, who batted 84 balls for an unbeaten 14, leaving the opponents frustrated.   -  R. V. Moorthy

Rain in the first match and fog in the last left Andhra exasperated as it concluded its league on a heart-breaking note. Hyderabad hung on to draw the match and made it to the knockout stage after having finished second from the bottom in the tournament last season.

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A thick cover of fog deprived the teams of play in the first session at the Ekana International Stadium here on Saturday. “Extremely disappointed,’ remarked Andhra manager M. S. Kumar, conveying the despondency of the team's dressing room. “The weather hampered us (in two matches) and the 48-hour journey from Dhanbad to Lucknow (for this match) tested the players’ resilience,” he added.

The late start did not hamper Andhra’s spirit and the hard-working seamer P. Vijay Kumar struck two blows and Siva Kumar as panic gripped the Hyderabad camp. Andhra missed the services of Siva Kumar to cramps and Hyderabad survived through a dogged show by S. Badrinath, who batted 84 balls for an unbeaten 14, leaving the opponents frustrated. A 59-ball defiance by K. Sumanth proved crucial for Hyderabad.

Hyderabad coach was gracious in his comments. “Yes, Andhra dominated the match, but getting them for 190 (on the first day) was creditable. The fog did play a part but then we needed the luck. It had eluded us the whole tournament. The boys had performed brilliantly right through. We had four outright win and missed a fifth very closely because of poor light. The team has been fantastic. I would pick Badrinath’s knock in the second innings for special mention.”

Call for better scheduling next season

Arun pleaded for better scheduling next season. “The idea should always be to have full duration matches but the scheduling should be better. The BCCI should avoid venues in the north in December because we have other venues too.”

Andhra coach Sanath Kumar could not hide his disappointment. “We messed up the previous match which we ought to have won. It proved important for us. I think the BCCI should not have allotted the last match, always crucial, to any venue in the north. Giving the teams full match must be the priority.”

Reflecting on the match, Sanath said, “To me, Vijay Kumar’s bowling was the highlight. He bowled exceptionally well. The injury to Siva Kumar also came at a crucial stage (Hyd was 36 for five in 29 overs). The first innings partnership between M. Pranith and Ashwin Hebbar was praiseworthy too.