Vadodara, Jan 5 (UNI) Star-studded Uttar Pradesh hit back to reduce spirited Saurashtra to 116 for eight after being bowled out for 188 in their first innings on the first day of the five-day Ranji Trophy semi-finals being played at the Motibaug Palace Cricket Ground here today.
On a day of high drama wherein 18 wickets tumbled on a wicket which provided ample resistence to fast bowlers, Saurashtra were trailing by 72 runs with only two wickets in hand. Rakesh Dhruv on 21 and Sandeep Jobanputra on 15 were at the crease when umpires decided to call it a day with four overs of the day's quota left to be bowled.
Defending their small total in the presence of national selector Dilip Vengsarkar, UP rallied in a splendid manner through young medium pacers Praveen Kumar (3/35), Sudeep Tyagi (3/43) and Bhuvnesh Kumar (2/23) and virtually made Saurashtra batsmen dance to their tune.
After Kumar scalped opener Kanaiya Vaghela (0) and veteran Sitanshu Kotak (0) in the very third over of the innings, Saurashtra batting line-up caved in like a pack of cards.
Fighting a lone battle, skipper Jaydev Shah top scored with 57 from 72 balls with eight boundaries.
Earlier, after Saurashtra won the toss and elected to field, fiery pace bowling by speedsters Sandip Maniar (6/88) and Sandeep Jobanputra (3/60) devastated UP for 188 all out in 51.5 overs, bowled in the first two sessions of the play.
UP would have been dismissed much early had not skipper Mohammed Kaif salvaged the innings with his pain-staking 80 (122 balls, 13x4) even as he was grassed on two occasions.
Maniar and Jobanputra justified their captain Shah's decision to field first because of the dew factor in the morning.
Opening their innings with Rohit Prakash (3) and Amir Khan (4), Uttar Pradesh crashed to 15 for three in just 10 overs as in-form Suresh Raina (2) also fell prey cheaply to Maniar whose figure then read an impressive 5-1-14-3. All the three were caught behind by Sagar Jogiyani while playing defensively to Maniar on the backfoot.
Although, Kaif and Ravikant Shukla played stubbornly to stem the top order batting collapse with a 54-ball 54-run partnership for the fourth wicket, UP were struggling at 112 for seven at lunch as Jobanputra struck twice in consecutive deliveries removing Shukla (29, 6x4) and Piyush Chawla (0).
Kaif, who held up one end for 199 minutes, finally gave up after he was brilliantly caught by his Saurashtra counterpart Shah at extra cover off Maniar after his eighth wicket partnership with Bhuvnesh Kumar (33 not out) produced valuable 49 runs. Soon after his exit, UP folded up their innings at 188.
MORE UNI SS MAZ SKB RAR RN2047