The twists and turns that make cricket such a fascinating game were on full view under a half moon at the NPR College ground on Sunday.
Chasing India Red’s 337, it needed something out of the ordinary to deny India Green the crucial first innings lead. That’s exactly what Rajneesh Gurbani produced, bowling India Red out for 309.
From 283 for five, Gurbani engineered a spectacular collapse.
The Vidarbha pacer came up with a splendid spell — with the second new ball in the final session — that saw him take five for 37 from 13 overs. He finished with seven for 81 off 27 overs to open the new domestic season the way he had ended it over seven months ago.
Gurbani had taken eight wickets, including a hat-trick, to help Vidarbha win its maiden Ranji Trophy title last season. With 39 wickets, he ended up as the second highest wicket-taker.
India Red ended the third day at 38 without loss — a lead of 66 — when play had to be called off with 15 minutes left as the bowling area run-up needed to be repaired.
Among the more disappointed men in the India Green team must be B. Indrajith, who scored a fine hundred that was easy on the eye.
The Tamil Nadu batsman, who had hammered a double hundred a year ago in this competition, played some pleasing drives and used his feet well against the spinners to make 109 (228b, 15×4). He fell, attempting to drive Gurbani and edging to Sanjay Ramaswamy at slip.
Sudip on song
Another batsman to impress was Sudip Chatterjee (82, 205b, 6×4, 1×6), who put on 123 for the third wicket with Indrajith.
India Red — 1st innings: 337.
India Green — 1st innings: Priyank Panchal c Nadeem b Gurbani 8, Prashant Chopra b Gurbani 19, Sudip Chatterjee run out 82, B. Indrajith c Sanjay b Gurbani 109, Parthiv Patel c Wadkar b Porel 11, Gurkeerat Mann c Sanjay b Gurbani 35, Jalaj Saxena c & b Gurbani 27, K. Vignesh b Wadkar 6, Vikas Mishra (not out) 2, Ashoke Dinda c&b Gurbani 0, Ankit Rajpoot c Prithviraj b Nadeem 5; Extras (lb-1, nb-2, w-1): 5; Total (in 111.3 overs): 309.
Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-35, 3-158, 4-201, 5-257, 6-283, 7-301, 8-302, 9-302.
India Red bowling: Gurbani 27-5-81-7, Prithviraj 14-6-46-0, Nadeem 34.3-5-77-1, Porel 16-5-33-1, Mihir 16-1-67-0, Writtick Chatterjee 3-0-3-0, Aparajith 1-0-1-0.
India Red — 2nd innings: Sanjay Ramaswamy (batting) 16, Abhinav Mukund (batting) 21; Extras (w-1): 1; Total (for no wkt. in 6.3 overs): 38.
India Green bowling: Rajpoot 3.3-0-20-0, Dinda 3-0-18-0.
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