The pitch did not change, but the mindset of the players did as India Red, propelled by Abhinav Mukund’s professionally constructed century, gave an improved account of its cricket on the second day of the Duleep Trophy league match at the Shaheed Vijay Singh Pathik Sports Complex here on Wednesday.
What a striking contrast to the inaugural day of the floodlit encounter it was! There was discipline in the batting approach and sanity was restored in the middle as bowlers learnt the hard way to earn their rewards. The batsmen, having put value to their reputation and wicket, did not repeat the mistakes of the first day. There was a method to their approach and India Red, 10 runs in deficit, showed its tenacity to give the contest the status it deserved.
Abhinav’s 22nd first-class century was as good as the preceding ones. It gave his team space to make a match of it. It helped him establish his credentials as a technically accomplished batsman in this grade. He did not compromise with the situation by looking to just grind. He backed himself to play his shots and they came off in a flash off a willow.
Resuming at 116 for seven, India Green added 35 runs in the afternoon before handing over the stage to India Red. Nathu Singh, a wonderful athlete, raw but brimming with energy, claimed all the three wickets to finish with six for 53. He did not compromise his zeal to bowl fast and returned rich figures to raise hopes of an India cap in the long season that lies ahead.
Abhinav and K.S. Bharat adopted a positive mindset. If the ball pleaded to be hit, they did not disappoint. To their benefit, the pitch had eased out and the batsmen had little trouble spotting the ball. The seam stood out in its black colour, but it was the batsmen’s temperament that made an impression.
Once they had resolved to apply themselves, their job became easier and India Green realised soon it was up against a transformed opposition.
It was poor shot selection that cost Bharat his wicket. He had decided to take on Ankit Rajpoot, a wiry but lively new-ball bowler. The motivation for Bharat had come from the swung six off Ashoke Dinda, but he made an unwise move off Rajpoot, who crashed through his defence to hit the middle stump.
Abhinav and Sudip Chatterjee, complementing each other superbly, took over in style and gave the contest a meaningful course.
Abhinav’s quality at the crease has never been doubted, and he gave ample display of it this evening. Some glittering strokes left the bowlers admiring his work and the century was a benchmark he set for the remainder of the tournament, and succeeded in dispelling any apprehensions the rest would have had of the pink ball under floodlights.
Giving him company was Chatterjee, a compact left-hander from Bengal, with 112 against his name. An hour before close, India Red was 272 for one, 282 ahead.
India Red — 1st innings: 161
India Green — 1st innings: Robin Uthappa b Nathu 1 ( 7b ), Jalaj Saxena c Bharat b Nathu 10 ( 18b, 1×4 ), Parthiv Patel c Bharat b Kuldeep 24 ( 65b, 2×4 ), Rajat Paliwal lbw b Nathu 1 ( 4b ), Suresh Raina b Kuldeep 35 ( 56b, 5×4 ), Saurabh Tiwary c Anureet b Nathu 50 ( 80b,7×4, 1×6 ), Shreyas Gopal c Yuvraj b Kuldeep 0 ( 3b ), Sandeep Sharma run out 3 ( 13b ), Ashoke Dinda b Nathu 17 ( 31b, 3×4 ), Pragyan Ojha b Nathu 0 ( 3b ), Ankit Rajpoot (not out) 0 ( 4b ), Extras (lb-1, nb-9): 10; Total (in 45.4 overs): 151.
Fall of wickets 1-1, 2-25, 3-31, 4-72, 5-87, 6-87, 7-100, 8-139, 9-140.
India Red bowling: Anureet Singh 8-0-31-0, Nathu Singh 12.4-0-53-6, Kuldeep Yadav 15-4-32-3, Ishwar Pandey 5-0-19-0, Akshay Wakhare 5-0-15-0.
India Red — 2nd innings: K.S. Bharat b Rajpoot 20 ( 20b, 2×4, 1×6 ), Abhinav Mukund (batting) 137 ( 170b, 16×4 ), Sudip Chatterjee (batting) 112 ( 177b, 14×4 ), Extras (lb-2, nb-1): 3; Total (for one wkt. in 61 overs): 272.
Fall of wickets: 1-39.
India Green bowling: Sandeep Sharma 13-2-53-0, Ashoke Dinda 10-2-31-0, Ankit Rajpoot 8-0-42-1, Jalaj Saxena 15-0-57-0, Pragyan Ojha 7-0-45-0, Shreyas Gopal 8-0-42-0.