Ranji Trophy: Tripura skittled out for 171

Andhra's seamers Paidikalva Vijaykumar and C. Stephen took seven wickets between them to skittle Tripura out for 171 on Day One of the Ranji Trophy Group C tie in Valsad.

Paidikalva Vijaykumar broke the back of Tripura's batting line-up with a disciplined effort.   -  K. Ramesh Babu

Andhra’s Paidikalva Vijaykumar (four for 56) and C. Stephen (three for 47) ran through Tripura after tea was extended on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Group C match at the Sardar Patel Stadium here on Sunday.

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A week and a month short of a decade into the championship, Vijay made the milestone of claiming 200 wickets in the nation’s premier domestic tournament when he scalped rival skipper Mura Singh.

Andhra made the most out of choosing to field first. While seasoned spearhead Vijay kept the openers on a tight leash from the temple end, Stephen struck on the last ball of the fourth over from the pavilion side. Not only did the left-arm paceman’s delivery rise, it curved in menacingly, taking Udiyan Ghosh’s inner edge to keeper K. S. Bharat.

Andhra’s move was further vindicated when Smit Patel was caught behind off Vijay. All at sea, incidentally on his home ground, Smit seemed foxed more by the bounce than the line.

Nagging in accuracy, Vijay never wavered in length either, giving the batsmen very little leeway.

Vijay, who was unlucky on quite a few occasions to whiz past the blade, also accounted for Bishal Ghosh, Tripura’s top scorer until then. Vijay squeezed a snick out of the batsman to have him caught behind. Figures during that second spell from the pavilion end read 7-1-21-2.

In between, Sashikanth trapped Nirupam Chowdhary in front. Tripura was struggling at 85 for 4 at lunch.

Chipping away

Switching ends benefitted Stephen too, who rapped Yashpal Singh on the pads. If Vijay’s in-cutters beat the bat time and again, Stephen demonstrated away movement. He got Abhijit Dey with an outswinger, with wicketkeeper Bharat perfectly in position to take the catch.

Rajat Dey slashed at Stephen shortly after but was neatly picked up by Ricky Bhui at point. Captain Mura Singh hardly led by example, the urge to cut loose getting the better of him and that too against a precision-driven Vijay.

Substitute fielder Bandaru Ayyappa at mid-off leapt to hold one lofted drive but couldn’t quite come to grips with the sharp chance. Soon after, Singh attempted another heave but this time was held by Sashikanth in the covers.

Two minutes’ silence was observed before play began in memory of K. R. Desai, founder Secretary of the Balsad District Cricket Association (BDCA) formed in the last 60s.

“It was through his pioneering efforts that where once was a pond, a cesspool and breeding ground for mosquitoes, there now stands this playing field with all modern amenities within the complex,” recalled Janakbhai D. Desai, the present Secretary.