Ranji Trophy: Samarth, Tanmay lay strong platform for UP

Samarth and Srivastava put together 109 runs for the opening partnership. Samarth was the architect of the innings and was unbeaten on 115 at stumps with Umang Sharma (36) for company.

Samarth Singh started slowly before accelerating to notch up his maiden first-class century in only his second game.   -  R.V. Moorthy

Uttar Pradesh coach Manoj Prabhakar's big concern had been his team's batting. Samarth Singh and Tanmay Srivastava made sure he would be satisfied with their efforts as UP, deciding to bat first, reached 207 for the loss of one wicket on Day One of its third round Ranji Trophy game against Tamil Nadu here on Thursday.

Samarth was the architect of the innings, slow to start with before accelerating to notch up his maiden first-class century in only his second game. He was unbeaten on 115 at stumps with Umang Sharma (36) for company. Samarth and Srivastava put together 109 runs for the opening partnership before Srivastava, stretching forward to defend, nicked an outside edge from Washington Sundar to Baba Indrajith at first slip immediately after driving through cover to reach his 50.

For those bred on the fast paced action and drama of T20s and ODIs, Srivastava and Samarth's grafting might have bordered on boring, the score being 60 for no loss at lunch in 38 overs. For UP, though, it was a patient, persevering knock that merited applause. But it was Samarth who stood up, and stood out.

With a stubborn defence and an equally confident shot-making, the 25-year old hung around, not bothering with anything that remotely moved outside off stump, to see off the first session safely as Tamil Nadu managed a whopping 34 maiden overs. The first two of his 18 fours on the day came in the 15th over, off consecutive balls from Krishnamoorthy Vignesh, on either side of the pitch.

Tamil Nadu tried everything and, to be fair, would consider itself unlucky. With the ball moving and the pitch providing enough bounce in the first hour and half, captain Abhinav Mukund tried both pace and spin early on. Both Aswin Crist and T. Natarajan managed to beat the bat often, as did left-arm spinner Rahil Shah, but failed to get the edge.

The few times they did, the ball raced across the fast outfield. Once the pitch eased off post-lunch, however, there was little to stop Samarth. Finding gaps at will and punching strongly on either side of the pitch, Samarth ran quick singles to allow Srivastava, on 49, to reach his 50 but as the latter played out four maiden overs, the former whacked Shah for a straight six down the ground to bring up his own half century and UP's 100.

Stroking the ball to all corners there were hardly any fluke shots, the ball came bang off the middle and a look at Samarth's scoring chart left no area untouched. He also benefited from several misfields from Tamil Nadu that helped add to his number of boundaries.

Umang Sharma was happy to be the anchor at the other end, allowing Samarth take charge. A six over midwicket down on one knee and two fours off consecutive balls through cover and midwicket took him to 99 before a single flicked to midwicket brought about a leap of joy and a wave of bat. There were a couple of lapses in concentration towards the end as Natarajan bent his back to make the ball bounce and carry but the batsmen survived.



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