HIS CELEBRATIONS remind you of Shivnarine Chanderpaul. Helmet off, bat firmly in his left hand, Kedar Devdhar, the diminutive Baroda opener, bent down on both knees and planted a kiss on the dusty strip at the Air Force Sports Complex in Palam.
This was Kedar’s fifth ton in first-class cricket, and under the circumstances, his most compelling knock. Having conceded a slender 18-run lead to Mumbai in the first innings, Baroda were put on the backfoot in the morning session on Day 3. But Kedar’s knock gave his team the desired momentum for an outside chance of an outright win on the final day. Playing with a positive mindset paid him rich dividends. The 27-year-old kickstarted his campaign with a flurry of boundaries, and by the lunch interval, he had already brought up his half century.
What stood out in his batting was his impeccable timing and a sense of insouciance.
Aditya Waghmode, his opening partner, looked out of sorts. But Kedar’s flourish helped him settle down. The duo’s opening stand yielded 177 runs, which proved to be the cornerstone of Baroda’s assertive reply in their second innings.
The Palam track held up pretty well on Saturday, and barring the stray instances of indifferent bounce, there was hardly anything for the Mumbai bowlers. Kedar cashed in on the opportunity. Scoring at a fairly brisk rate, the 27-year-old looked poised for a big haul.
He looked fidgety on reaching the 90s. conscious of an impending landmark, Kedar played one false shot too many. On 91, he edged Abhishek Nayar that flew between the slips. Five runs later, he was dropped again — this time in the gully region by Akhil Herwadkar. Riding on his luck, Kedar marched ahead. “My plan was to play every ball on its merit. As the spinner didn’t turn the ball much, it gave us the freedom to go for our shots,” Kedar summed up his team’s efforts at the end of the day’s play.
After Waghmode’s exit, Kedar found an ally in Deepak Hooda. In the quest to score quick runs to set a sizeable target for the Ranji champions, Baroda’s No.4 mixed aggression with a bit of flair.
He began with a thumping drive straight down the ground off Balwinder Sandhu’s bowling. The third-wicket stand between Kedar and Hooda yielded 57 runs in a little over 13 overs. Kedar was dismissed for 145, caught behind by Mumbai skipper Aditya Tare, while trying to slash a wide delivery from Tushar Deshpande.
Baroda lost two more wickets in the final session, but Hooda continued, much in the same vein. By the time stumps were drawn on Day 3, Irfan Pathan’s team had gained a lead of 303 runs.
BRIEF SCORES: Baroda: 305 & 321/5 (Kedar Devdhar 145, Deepak Hooda 66, Aditya Waghmode 66); Mumbai 1st Innings: 323