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Rest of India fold for 330 despite Vihari century, Agarwal 95

Stumps Rest of India 330 all out (Vihari 114, Agarwal 95, Wakhare 3-62, Sarwate 3-99) v Vidarbha

Two contrasting innings – an aggressive 95 from Mayank Agarwal and a dogged 114 from Hanuma Vihari – took Rest of India to 330 before they were bowled out at stumps against Vidarbha on the first day of the Irani Cup match in Nagpur, leaving the Ranji Trophy champions the happier side at close of play.

From 171 for one, RoI lost their next nine wickets for only 159 runs as they suffered a collapse, brought about by some top-quality bowling chiefly from Vidarbha’s spinners.

The turnaround began with Agarwal’s dismissal in the 39th over. Shortly after surviving a close lbw shout, he checked his drive and holed out at cover, handing Yash Thakur (playing in place of the injured Umesh Yadav) his only wicket of the day.

Ajinkya Rahane, the RoI captain, then followed after making 13 in a 14-run stand with Vihari. Shreyas Iyer (11) didn’t last long either, defending down the wrong line to the left-arm spin of Akshay Karnewar, and right at the stroke of tea, Ishan Kishan (2) holed out trying to smash Akshay Wakhare over the leg-side infield. After conceding 142 for one in the first session, Vidarbha’s bowlers had some reason to smile at tea; they took four wickets in the second session for only 92 runs.

It got better for them at the start of the evening session. K Gowtham, the No. 8, perished trying to clear midwicket, and Aditya Sarwate‘s left-arm spin got the better of Dharmendrasinh Jadeja. At 258 for seven, Vidarbha would have backed themselves to wrap up the RoI innings for under 300, but in Rahul Chahar, Vihari found a stable partner, and they rotated the strike well. The two added 49 for the eighth wicket, taking RoI past 300 before the partnership was broken by Sarwate.

In the morning, Agarwal started brilliantly, using the width on offer from new-ball bowler Rajneesh Gurbani to crack two boundaries in the very first over. He then took on Sarwate – just like he dealt with Nathan Lyon on Test debut at the MCG – using his feet to play inside-out lofted shots over the off side. It mostly went his way, barring the time wicketkeeper Akshay Wadkar failed to hold on to the edge from an attempted cover drive.

Vihari, too, rode on some luck. When he was yet to get off the mark, a length ball from Thakur whizzed past his outside edge. There was a loud appeal from the Vidarbha players for caught behind, but the umpire was unmoved. Replays showed some deviation off the bat, but with no DRS in play, the decision remained.

When Agarwal and Vihari batted together in the first session following Anmolpreet Singh’s dismissal for 15, they scored at more than five per over for the most part.

The post-lunch session began with Vihari reaching his half-century with a flurry of boundaries in the 38th over. He took on Sarwate, hitting two fours and a six – straight back over the bowler’s head – to reach his half-century. Later in the day, in the 77th over, he skipped down the track to hammer a straight drive to reach his 16th first-class hundred. It was an innings that was appreciated by those in his corner, and the sparse crowd that had come to the ground on a Tuesday afternoon. It looked like he would finish the day unbeaten, but Sarwate – the man who Vihari had punished earlier on – found the outside edge of his attempted cut shot, and the ball went straight to Faiz Fazal at slip.

Among the Vidarbha bowlers, Wakhare had the day’s best figures – three for 62 – while Sarwate, despite starting poorly, also had three wickets. As the sun baked the pitch, Sarwate found more turn, removing both Jadeja and Vihari in quick succession. Gurbani, too, found reward for bowling a stump-to-stump line, pegging the leg stump of both Anmolpreet and Chahar to finish with two for 58. Left-arm spinner Akshay Karnewar, who also experimented with a right-arm delivery for one ball in the afternoon, and Thakur had one each.

The second day will begin with Vidarbha’s batsmen trying to edge in front, but they are without Wasim Jaffer. The talismanic top-order batsman failed a fitness test before the game after spraining his ankle. For RoI, much of their chances will depend on how spinners Chahar and Jadeja fare. After all, in the Ranji Trophy this season, spinners took 67 of the 99 wickets that fell in Nagpur.

Article source: http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/content/story/1174424.html?CMP=OTC-RSS

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