At the fag end of the day, Irfan Pathan got one to curl back into left-hander Ashish Yadav. The Railways southpaw shouldered his arms and was wrapped on his pads. The Baroda team went up in unison. The umpire gave the verdict in the affirmative. Railways lost Yadav for 31, their seventh wicket. That was to be the last ball of the day. The Baroda bowler walked to the dressing room satisfied. On the flat pitch at the Karnail Singh Stadium, they had given a good account of themselves.
Losing Yadav’s wicket pegged Railways back. Till his error in judgement, Yadav had looked comfortable and was poised for a big score. He latched on to anything that was off line and was particularly harsh on Baroda’s come-back man Irfan Pathan. Against Pathan, while facing the new ball, Yadav first cracked a square drive. In the next over, the left-arm pacer bowled short and the ball was helped on its way to the fine-leg fence. Together with Arnab Nandi, the duo were harbouring hopes of getting ahead of Baroda’s 298. They finally ended the day at 251/7.
In terms of conditions, Day 3 was in complete contrast to Day 2. If Day 2 was cold, damp and windy, Day 3 was sunny and pleasant. Railways batted like their opponents did on Day 1.
All their batsmen with the exception of Prashant Awasthi got starts, but none went on to make a big century. Bhosale, who came at No.3 played the sheet anchor’s role, much like Baroda’s opener Kedar Devdhar. Coming in at the fall of opener Paunikar’s wicket at the end of the fourth over, Bhosale mixed caution with aggression.
After lunch, he and Arindam Ghosh played with doggedness. However, in doing so, they missed out on the opportunity to increase the run rate. Instead, they were too intent on conserving the wickets. In the 16 overs of the second session, the duo added just 37 runs. Baroda’s spinners Swapnil Singh and Yusuf Pathan then got rid of Ghosh and Awasthi in quick session and on a placid track the home side were struggling at 115/4.
This brought captain Mahesh Rawat to the wicket. Rawat gave his team the impetus that was missing in the first-half. He kept the scoreboard ticking and did not allow the spinners to dictate terms. His footwork was nimble and his energy rubbed off on Bhosale, who began to open up and began to score more freely. He cracked left-arm spinner Swapnil Singh over long-on for the first six of the innings. The two added 83 runs after which Yusuf Pathan struck. He first trapped captain Rawat in front for a well compile half century, and 6 runs later got Bhosale, Baroda’s prized catch for 76.
“I am not happy with the umpiring. I had checked the footage and it showed that I got an edge. I got out at a crucial juncture. However, our lower order can bat,” Rawat said.
all the bowlers chipped in for Baroda. Pathan and Mangaolkar got the openers before lunch and the spin duo of Swapnil and Yusuf halted the middle-order charge. Barring a couple of missed catches, the fielding was pretty sharp and they kept picking wickets at regular intervals.
Yusuf Pathan feels Baroda have the edge going into the final day and exuded confidence of attaining a first-innings lead. “Our bowling was good today, Irfan and other fast bowlers are bowling well in tandem and with a 47-run lead, we are definitely ahead in the game now,” he said, adding the wicket here did not assist spin and despite being a little low on bounce, it was good for batting.
On his form, Pathan said he was getting starts and felt that a big knock was just around the corner. He also defended his aggressive style of play.
“I have been not been able to convert this season. However, with three matches to go, I am confident of getting a big score soon. I have always been an attacking player and will always back myself to play my shots. I will be disappointed if I get out playing defensively,” he added.
Brief Scores: Baroda 298. Railways 251/7 in 93 overs.