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On ‘rubbish’ pitch, Maha-UP play Runji trophy

Chinmay Brahme

Posted: Nov 12, 2012 at 0104 hrs IST

Pune: How much is too much? Throughout the final session on Day Two, and the first half-hour of the next morning, spectators at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium mulled over this question, as Maharashtra went past 700, and then 750, with no sign that a declaration was imminent. When the moment finally arrived, Maharashtra were 764 for six.

What were Maharashtra thinking? With less two days remaining, it was hard to see how they could get 20 wickets and force an outright result. After the start they had had, it seemed extremely unambitious of them to settle for three points. But by the end of Day Three, which Uttar Pradesh ended at 287 for one, it looked like they were fearing they wouldn’t even get first-innings honours.

Such was the state of a wicket that UP coach Venkatesh Prasad termed “rubbish”. UP skipper Suresh Raina was no less scathing in his assessment. “There is absolutely nothing in it for the bowlers. There is no point in killing off a match by making such a wicket,” he said, and had a go at the home team’s tactics as well. “Batting for two full days and finishing the match is not something that is good for the competition. I don’t think that’s the right way to go about things.”

After Maharashtra had declared after adding 29 to their overnight total and losing captain Rohit Motwani — who added only one to his overnight 146 — the UP top-order took full toll of the conditions, without letting their opponents’ total get to them.

Mukul Dagar, who scored 126 runs in an opening stand of 248 with Tanmay Shrivastava, said that the brief given to him was clear. “We had to pay them back,” he said. “Our bowlers put in so much effort and it was the batsmen’s task to back them up and put some runs on the board.”

Dagar, who had scored a century against Delhi in UP’s last match, looked in imperious touch, driving Samad Fallah confidently through the off-side. Shrivastava was not to be left behind as he took Anupam Sanklecha to the cleaners. UP took lunch at 79 for no loss, with 17 boundaries in that total.

The Maharashtra bowlers seemed oblivious to the mistakes committed by the UP bowlers. The fast bowlers frequently dropped the ball short, and also failed to bowl to their field that was set for them. A clear example came in Dominic Muthuswamy’s 14th over. With an 8-1 off-side field for the medium-pacer, Muthuswamy bowled four of his six balls on the batsman’s pads; two of them disappeared to the fence.

Triple-centurion, Kedar Jadhav was the lone successful bowler for Maharashtra. Jadhav had Dagar caught at long-off but the rest of the bowlers could not find a way past the UP batsmen.

“Lag raha hai ki no result jaayega,” said Dagar, at the end of the day’s play. UP are still 477 runs behind, and have nine wickets in hand. With only seven wickets falling on the first three days, and the wicket only getting slower, it’s hard to see either side establish a first innings advantage.

Brief scores: Maharashtra 764/6d vs Uttar Pradesh 287/1 in 79 overs (T Srivastava batting 134, M Dagar 126, K Jadhav 1/3)

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