New Delhi: Nov 17, 2012
Stand-in captain Ambati Rayudu led from the front with an impressive half-century as Baroda ended the first day's play at a comfortable 252 for three against Delhi in a third round Ranji Trophy Group B encounter on Saturday.
Put into bat, Baroda rode on Rayudu's undefeated 83 and his partnership of 143 runs for the unbroken fourth wicket stand with Abhimanyu Chauhan, who is giving him company on 82.
Rayudu scored his runs off 146 balls with 13 hits to the fence while Chauhan continued his good form having scored a century against Vidarbha in the last game.
The 25-year-old Chauhan played for more than four and half hours facing 196 balls and hitting 13 boundaries in the process.
With another flat deck offered by the DDCA, it was a question of Baroda batsmen able to bide their time out there in the middle and Rayudu-Chauhan combination did exactly that.
They didn't hit any flashy shots but also punished the loose deliveries.
The wicket wasn't easy for strokemaking but the flurry of boundaries that Rayudu hit off left-arm spinner Manan Sharma was pleasing to the eye.
The pitch had nothing for the bowlers as both Awana and Nehra were seen bending their backs trying to extract a bit of bounce from the 22-yard strip. There were times when Awana's bouncers were collected by glovesman Punit Bisht on second bounce, increasing the agony of home team skipper Dhawan.
Wakaskar, who had replaced Yusuf Pathan in the line-up started safely as the opening pair added 46 runs for the first wicket.
Nehra, who bowled a six-over spell for 17 runs went off the field and didn't come back till the end of the day and was seen applying ice-pack. He has already been out for more than four hours and is unlikely to bowl again in this match.
Nehra's absence meant that Rajat Bhatia in his first match of the season had to again bowl a lot of overs. The old workhorse had the best figures for the home team (13-6-20-2).
It was seamer Sumit Narwal, who got the first wicket when he bowled a bouncer which forced Wakaskar to go for a pull-shot. But he mistimed it and the ball ballooned up which was easily grabbed by Parvinder Awana, stationed at square leg.
Waghmode was then joined by Chauhan and the duo didn't take any undue risk during their 55-run partnership.
Waghmode left most of the deliveries outside the off-stump but punished the loose balls. Chauhan, on the otherhand, flicked and drove anything that was bowled on his pads.
Waghmode completed a well-deserved half century just after lunch and celebrated that with a punchy cover drive off Bhatia.
However Delhi's ever-dependable all-rounder had the last laugh when Waghmode edged one to the slips which was brilliantly caught by Mohit Sharma diving to his right. The diminutive left-hander scored 54 off 105 balls with seven boundaries.
From 101 for one, Baroda had a mini slump as they were reduced to 109 for three with Rakesh Solanki (0) also fishing a Bhatia delivery outside off-stump as Mohit took his second catch of the day.
Rayudu was a bit circumspect to begin with but with younger partner Chauhan growing in confidence, the stand-in skipper also started opening up with a beautiful cover drive off Awana and then he hit a wide array of strokes.
With left-arm spinner Manan Sharma's bowling lacking bite, Rayudu time and again came out of the crease to loft him straight.
Suddenly, the former India U-19 captain started matching Chauhan stroke for stroke and in the 60's he infact surpassed his younger partner.
The best shot of the day was a cracking cover drive off Narwal which raced to the boundary. It was a fuller delivery and Rayudu generated tremendous bat speed.
Unless Delhi take a few quick wickets tomorrow, Baroda are well on their way to scoring a big first innings total.
Brief Scores: Baroda 252 for 3 (Ambati Rayudu 83*, Abhimanyu Chauhan 82 batting, Aditya Waghmod 54, Rajat Bhatia 2 for 20) vs Delhi