Rajasthan v Rest of India, Irani Cup, Bangalore, 1st day September 21, 2012

Yadav five boosts ROI after Bist ton


Rest of India 2 for 0 trail Rajasthan 253 (Bist 117*, Umesh 5-55) by 251 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Rajasthan's Robin Bist extended his prolific first-class run, and sent out a message to the national selectors, with a century on the first day of the Irani Cup in Bangalore, though his efforts were undermined by a Umesh Yadav five-for that left Rest of India in a strong position.

A batsman scoring a 1000 runs in a Ranji season is a difficult task, but Bist accomplished that during Rajasthan's run to the title last season. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a place on the India A tour of the Caribbean earlier this year, which had a whole host of contenders for middle-order berths in the Test side. In a series where runs were tough to score, Bist failed in the one chance he got, and was left out of the A side's next assignment, the visit to New Zealand. Three months out with a thumb fracture didn't help either.

Bist's response was an assured hundred in the first chance he got, and that too against an attack that had three members of the India Test squad. "It was a very big match for me, I am coming back after three months, playing such a big game," he said after the day's play. "I was really very desperate to make runs, not a hundred, but to make runs on this track against these bowlers."

Two Rest of India bowlers who were under the spotlight were Ishant Sharma, who was returning from a lengthy injury lay-off and left-arm spinner Harmeet Singh, a star at the Under-19 World Cup. Ishant's first day of top-flight cricket since February began with a short and very wide delivery, but he had a reasonably accurate first spell, testing the batsmen around off though he wasn't getting too much movement. He was too wide in his second spell, but turned in a more accurate stint after tea.

Harmeet had an even longer absence from first-class cricket, not able to make the Mumbai Ranji side since the 2010-11 season. They was a load of pressure on the 19-year-old to deliver, given the hype over his performances in Australia and also because by picking him Rest of India's slow-bowling consisted of the infrequent combination of two left-arm spinners. He didn't flight the ball too much in his first spell, and was a touch short as well, and was taken for plenty by the Rajasthan batsmen. While he didn't cover himself with glory on the first day, it should be kept in mind that he is very raw in the format, and needs time to learn how to bowl in the longer form.

Much of the talk ahead of the Irani Cup was about the mismatch between the two sides, and about how a Rajasthan team missing four key performers from last season - fast bowler Pankaj Singh (knee injury), opener Aakash Chopra (shifted to Himachal Pradesh), batsman Ashok Menaria and fast bowler Rituraj Singh (both in the India A team) - would compete against Rest of India. Those worries seemed to be well founded when, after being sent in on a track with a bit of grass but not much help for the bowlers, Rajasthan slid to 46 for 3, with their set batsman Ankit Lamba throwing away his wicket by edging a full and wide delivery to gully.

To compound matters, Rajasthan were a batsman short, with their wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik (first-class average 22.53) coming in at No. 6. Bist, though, calmed Rajasthan's nerves with a trouble-free partnership for the fourth wicket with Rashmi Parida. By lunch, they had moved to 81 for 3, and for an hour after the bowling was made to look pedestrian before a Parida misjudgement ended the stand: he shouldered arms to an Ishant Sharma delivery angling in, and was mortified to see it crash into the top of off.

Bist continued to build his innings, highlighted by his cuts against the spinners and flicks off the pads. Bist particularly enjoyed one shot. "When I was on 86, and hit Umesh a flick to midwicket, one of the best shots I have played," he said. He had one let-off on 41 when an edge went low and wide to M Vijay at first slip, but otherwise made the pitch look like the tame one it was. Yagnik was aggressive after tea, taking 14 off a Pragyan Ojha over, and Rajasthan cruised to 218 for 4, when Umesh sliced through the Rajasthan lower order to put Rest of India in charge.

Umesh hadn't made much of an impact with the new ball, generally dropping it too short and not making the batsman play enough. There were several hittable full deliveries on the pads as well, but when he returned for his third spell, he pitched it up and had several of the tailenders edging behind. In the space of 27 deliveries he snared five wickets, starting with a marginal decision lbw decision against Yagnik, who was struck on the pad just outside off stump.

Bist was unbeaten on 92 when Yagnik fell, and such was the haste with which Rajasthan caved that it briefly looked like Bist might miss out on a century. He got there, though, with a top-edged pull, not a stroke he was happy about, but there was no mistaking the delight at reaching the hundred. "I was disappointed at the shot, I was not enjoying the hundred because it was a very poor shot," he said. "I kept telling myself that I don't have to play pull shot, because that's the shot I really like to play, against any sort of bowler, if he is the fastest one I don't care."

Still, his unbeaten 117 couldn't stop Rajasthan from being bowled out for 253, which is not likely to be enough against a Rest of India line-up filled with domestic heavyweights.

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • smd on September 22, 2012, 11:21 GMT

    rahane should replace sehwag against eng

  • narbavi on September 22, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    What r u guys talking about?? Umesh time and time again has proved he is very expensive in this format, right now his bowling suits only for test cricket!!

  • Naresh on September 22, 2012, 9:04 GMT

    WOW!!!!! THE ROI could quite easily replace a lot of current India test side. Especially openers. When people were saying Rahane should be an opener I did not believe it now I am convinced - Shewag,Gambhir have not done well of late. Vijay has played as opener before but maybe needs an extended run. BCCI should send these two on an A-tour to SA so that we can see how well they do.

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2012, 3:53 GMT

    Banglore ground is not lucky ground for India compare with other grounds. Because, this ground helps first two days for faster bowlers. Before the England tour, it's nice to see India's two young fast bowlers performing better in this match. Zaheer's wicket taking ability gone. Even in last IPL, he didnt perform @ his best. He is trying his best, but his body is not helping according to his mind. Also, if six batsmen unable to perform, how can expect from the 7th batsman? India must try the rotation policy & maintain the replacement squad.

    Where is the T20 Specialists? T20 team should be: 1) Uththappa 2) Vijay 3) Kohli 4) Yuvraj 5) Raina 6) Dohni 7) Yusuf 8) Irfan 9) Ashwin 10) Praveen 11) RPSingh i

  • Dummy4 on September 22, 2012, 2:29 GMT

    How many more send-off matches for Rohit Sharma and zaheer khan ?

  • Balaji on September 21, 2012, 22:13 GMT

    I loved that there is a first class game happening in the midst of all the t20 craze, good to see umesh and ishant coming through nicely. Also it gives lot of options for selectors to have a look at robin bits, hopes he makes use of the opportunity given to him. I am ok with umesh not playing the t20 world cup, there is a england test looming ahead after the world cup, with shewag/gambhir/sachin being a liability in the batting line up, I hope the selectors make bold decisions in including new faces and trying them out as well.

  • Krishna on September 21, 2012, 17:30 GMT

    I'm surprised about Umesh Yadav not picked for ICC world T20.

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2012, 16:25 GMT

    Interesting to see bowling figures of Pragyan Ojha.Not that he bowled badly or he is out of form, just that even an average Indian batsman plays spin so well.Poms must be keeping an eye on this contest and that's going to worry them.

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2012, 15:25 GMT

    Well, in my opinion,it's good that Yadav isn't playing T20. If he wants to be the best Indian seamer ever(and there's every reason he can), he should just play 4/5 days Cricket. I'd rather have Umesh playing Tests & picking wickets than playing T20s & getting edged for fours & losing heart.

  • Dummy4 on September 21, 2012, 14:29 GMT

    Yadav should have been in the WC T20... Our selection panel is useless. Not sure how Balaji got selected..

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