By CricketCountry Staff
On the first morning of the Ranji Trophy 2013-14 final at Hyderabad, Karnataka rocked Maharashtra and had them at 90 for three. In walked Ankit Bawne, one of the young stars of Maharashtra cricket and he batted through the day to see them off to a decent 272 for five. It was an innings of measure as he absorbed the pressure and ended the day unbeaten on 89 — with the three figure mark in sight.
Bawne has been the go-to man for Maharashtra in the knockouts. When they were in trouble during the first innings of the quarter-final against Mumbai, his innings of 84 was quite crucial and laid the foundation of a lower-order fightback. Then, in the semi-final against Bengal at Indore, Maharashtra were in a spot as they lost three wickets, but his innings of 89 helped them recover and then Sangram Atitkar took over and built a strong platform.
Of course, this is the final and there is pressure, but Bawne sees it as an opportunity, “Obviously, there is pressure. The knockouts are such that you lose and you are out, but here there is a trophy at stake. But, there is excitement also. If you score here, everyone is watching. So, it is a positive.”
Again, Bawne walked in when they had lost their prime batsman, Kedar Jadhav. The surface wasn’t too difficult, but Karnataka’s three pronged pace-attack had quality. Surely, it was difficult when he walked in at 90 for three, but he says that the wicket has dried out and is easy for batting, “They have a quality pace attack and have three seamers who have already played for India. As per the score, it was difficult. But, as I said earlier, the wicket has dried out now and is good for batting.”
A lot of the onus is now on Bawne and Atitkar to build a good score. They may be the last recognised pair, but Bawne is confident that the tail will contribute.
“It is the final and a crucial game. I am looking to bat according to the conditions. Partnerships are the key for us and they will help us in this game. Sangram [Atitkar] and I are batting now; later we have Shrikant [Mundhe]and [Akshay] Darekar who can also bat. The wicket has dried out now and is very good for batting. We have to look for a score around 400-450.”
There is a lot of talk about his impending ton already, but Bawne knows he has a job at hand. There is a long way to go in this final and he would surely want to convert this one into a bigger score, something he missed out on in the knockouts.
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