Ranji Trophy Quarterfinal: Avneesh, Vaibhav help Uttarakhand keep Vidarbha at bay

Uttarakhand finished the opening day at a respectable 293 for six on what looks like an ideal five-day pitch a Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium.

Avneesh Sudha and Vaibhav Panwar forged an important partnership.   -  S. Sudarshan

A fourth-wicket partnership of 140 runs between debutant Avneesh Sudha (91, 180b, 250m, 14x4) and Vaibhav Panwar (67, 128b, 177m, 12x4) followed by Saurabh Rawat’s unbeaten fifty (68 batting, 116b, 157m, 8x4, 2x6) ensured newbie Uttarakhand lived up to the pressure of playing the big Ranji Trophy quarterfinal, that too against defending champion Vidarbha.

Thanks to the middle-order triumvirate’s stellar show, Uttarakhand finished the opening day at a respectable 293 for six on what looks like an ideal five-day pitch a Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium.

Had it not been for the free-flowing partnership between Sudha and Panwar and the home team’s poor catching, Vidarbha may well have run away with the game.

With Rajneesh Gurbani snaring through the defence of captain Vineet Saxena in the opening over and Umesh Yadav beating Vaibhav Bhatt and Karanveer Kaushal with pace to be caught at first slip, Uttarakhand was tottering at 44 for three in the first hour.

As it Happened

In came leftie Panwar and along with teenager Sudha, who was handed a debut in place of veteran Rajat Bhatia, survived Yadav’s two bursts in the first session.

A few thick edges flew through the cordon to third-man fence but otherwise, both the batsmen timed the ball to perfection.

Panwar was impressive with his straight drives off pacers and spinners, while Sudha appeared to be compact in his technique. His exquisite cover drive off Yadav just before lunch was the stand-out shot of the day.

The duo resurrected Uttarakhand’s innings to go into Lunch at 138 for three and even after the break, they didn’t drop guard and continued to score freely.

Panwar received two reprieves - by wicket-keeper Akshay Wadkar off Gurbani on 33 and by R. Sanjay at first slip off Suniket Bingewar on 54 - but showed enough potential to be made to survive in the higher grade next season.

The left-hander finally ran out of luck half-way through the second session, with Wadkar pouching a nick off off-spinner Akshay Wakhare.

Rawat then opened his account with a square drive off Yadav and Sudha continued his march toward a hundred.

A ball after he was dropped on 87 by Mohit Kale at silly-point off Aditya Sarvate, he lofted the left-arm spinner for an inside-out boundary to enter into the 90s. However, in the next over, he top-edged Wakhare to offer a return catch to the bowler.

Despite Yadav and Gurbani bowling a spirited spell with the second new ball late in the day, with the latter removing Malolan Rangarajan after the former Tamil Nadu all-rounder had survived a close lbw appeal, Rawat played freely to help Uttarakhand inch closer to the 300-run mark before the end of the day’s proceedings.

Scorecard

Uttarakhand first innings: Vineet Saxena b Gurbani 5, Karanveer Kaushal c Sanjay b Yadav 31, Vaibhav Bhatt c Sanjay b Yadav 5, Avneesh Sudha c & b Wakhare 91, Vaibhav Panwar c Wadkar b Wakhare 67, Saurabh Rawat (batting) 68, Malolan Rangarajan c Sanjay b Gurbani 19, Mayank Mishra (batting) 1.

Extras (lb-4, nb-2) 6

Total (for 6 wkts, 90 overs) 293

Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-31, 3-44, 4-184, 5-232

Vidarbha bowling: Gurbani 21-2-72-2, Bingewar 13-3-39-0, Yadav 24-5-74-2, Fazal 3-0-21-0, Wakhare 14-2-46-2, Sarvate 15-4-37-0.

Toss: Vidarbha, chose to field

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