Nightwatchman Gadekar bats through day three for Goa
Goa 297 for 5 (Gadekar 86*, Kamat 83) trail Maharashtra 635 (Khadiwale 262, Mundhe 75) by 338 runs
Nightwatchman Harshad Gadekar put up stubborn resistance and frustrated the Maharashtra bowlers by batting out the whole of third day, in the Ranji Trophy Group C game in Pune. Despite Gadekar's unbeaten 86 and his 151-run partnership for the third wicket with Sagun Kamat though, Goa still had their backs to the wall, ending the day at 297 for 5, chasing Maharashtra's first-innings score of 635.
On a pitch that offered virtually no help for bowlers for the third day in succession, Gadekar displayed the grit required of a top-order batsman. Though his strokemaking was scratchy, he blocked and blocked all through the day to come up with a largely chanceless knock.
Gadekar was sent in on the second evening with six overs remaining in the day's play, and had faced 374 balls in his 17 previous innings in first-class cricket. By the end of the penultimate day's play, he had faced 294 balls in this innings, going well past his previous best of 20 and being on the verge of a rare century by a nightwatchman. While Gadekar focused on holding one end up, Kamat, who took the crease after Swapnil Asnodkar nicked Domnic Joseph behind in the first hour, was the pick of the batsmen.
A left-hand batsman, Kamat displayed his wide range of strokes, cutting pacers and driving the left-arm spin duo of Akshay Darekar and debutant Pushkaraj Chavan with ease. Kamat was fortunate twice in his innings - first he was dropped by Joseph at point off Shrikant Mundhe. Then, just before he missed a straight delivery by Joseph in the 11th over, after the new ball was taken, Kamat was trapped in front of the stumps but Mundhe had overstepped.
By the time he was dismissed, Kamat and Gadekar had recorded Goa's highest partnership for any wicket against Maharashtra, going past Vaibhav Naik and Saurabh Bandekar's 136-run association at Porvorim two seasons ago.
The Maharashtra bowlers tightened things up soon after they got the much-needed breakthrough early on in the last session. They were aided by poor strokemaking from Goa's specialist batsmen, who failed to take a cue from Gadekar. If Reagan Pinto was guilty of mistiming a pull shot off Mundhe to offer Vijay Zol a catch at square leg, captain Ravikant Shukla played the worst shot of the day. The left-hand batsman tried to play a lofted drive on the up off Darekar and mistimed it badly; it lobbed into Zol's hands in the covers.
Gadekar then saw off the remaining 14 overs without any further damage, thus ensuring that the Maharashtra camp will be a bit uneasy about the nightwatchman going into the final day.
Amol Karhadkar is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo