Former Indian spinner and now Vidarbha coach,Sairaj Bahutule,flashed a big smile when he saw the scoreboard read,’Vidarbha lead by 148 runs with three wickets remaining in first innings’ in a match played at the PCA Stadium against Punjab. The smile on his face said it all. With such a big first innings lead against the hosts,Vidarbha would fancy their chances.
It was due to the 203-run second wicket partnership between Faiz Fazal and Ravi Jangid that set the tone for Vidarbha. In reply to Punjab’s first innings total of 184 runs,Vidarbha ended the second day on 322 for seven in 120 overs,with Urvesh Patel (32) and Amol Jangade (59) at the crease.
Punjab pacers would have liked to wrap up the Vidarbha innings in the morning when the conditions were conducive for the seamers. But overnight batsmen Faiz Fazal and Ravi Jangid batted with grit and composure.
Faiz was on 40,when Punjab wicket-keeper Uday Kaul dropped his catch. Faiz took advantage of that and went on to score 99 runs but missed out on a well-deserved century by just one run when Sandeep Sharma dismissed him.
It was after Punjab took the new ball that success came their way. After Faiz perished,Ravi was also sent packing in the next over as he edged a catch to Uday Kaul off VRV Singh’s ball. Shalabh Shrivastava was the next to go,leaving Vidarbha on 237 for four in 686 overs.
There came a point in the match when medium-pacer Sandeep Sharma made a great impact. He bowled beautifully to get three wickets in one over. It was the 91st over of the match that saw the fall of Rashmi Parida,Hemang Badani and Shrikant Wagh. Suddenly Vidarbha were on the backfoot. The new ball worked well for Punjab.
Vidarbha were 241 for seven at that time. One would have thought that Vidarbha innings would fold soon with Punjab pacers dominating the proceedings. However,Urvesh Patel and Amol Jangade staged a superb comeback and held the Vidarbha innings together. Both added valuable 91 runs for their team and provided a big lead. Sandeep Sharma bagged four wickets for Punjab.
Injured Punjab captain Harbhajan Singh witnessed the day’s play sitting in the pavilion. Thinking about the ongoing Ranji Trophy championship,Harbhajan must be a worried man,as Punjab did not look comfortable in their last home match. In the first innings,Punjab batsmen struggled to find their feet at the crease. And if the lead is extended further,it would get difficult for Punjab.