Ganapathy plays spoilsport after UP fight back
Uttar Pradesh 25 for 1 (Ganapathy 1-4) trail Tamil Nadu 445 (Mukund 100, Karthik 72, Vijay 69, Ganapathy 67*, P Kumar 3-104) by 420 runs
On a day of comebacks, the resilient efforts of the Uttar Pradesh bowlers were followed by those of the Tamil Nadu tail and the day ended with the match in balance. Praveen Kumar, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Imtiyaz Ahmed put in a big effort in the first session to have TN eight down for 383 before running out of gas. C Ganapathy, on 14 then, scored 53 of the next 62 runs to take Tamil Nadu to a more respectable total before striking early with the ball to hurt a tired UP.
Ganapathy's innings somewhat undermined UP's superb comeback from Sunday's hammering. Praveen and Bhuvneshwar started the day with unbroken spells of 13 overs each, getting consistent movement, bowling accurately, and not giving away any free runs. It was important for them to remove the overnight batsmen early; both S Badrinath and Dinesh Karthik had looked in punishing form yesterday. In the fourth over, Badrinath drove at a widish delivery, which moved away and took the edge. He'd added six to his overnight 59. S Vidyut struggled for 20 minutes before losing his off stump to Bhuvneshwar. Twenty-two runs had been added in 10 overs, and the scoring was to slow down even further.
The next four overs saw six runs and eventually Praveen got Karthik to edge one through to wicketkeeper Amir Khan. At 324 for 5, Mohammad Kaif sensed an opportunity, and gave both the bowlers extended spells. They responded by troubling Suresh Kumar and R Ashwin, getting four edges in four consecutive overs, none of which went to hand. Praveen finally got his reward - Suresh's edge to Amir - before he finished his 13-over spell, in which he bowled six maidens, gave 24 runs and took three wickets. He got good support from Bhuvneshwar at the other end, who bowled 13 overs for 26 runs and one wicket.
When the bowling change was finally brought, it worked immediately. With his fourth ball of the day, Imtiaz Ahmed got an edge from R Ashwin to give Amir Khan his fifth catch of the innings. From 296 for 2 at the start of the day, Tamil Nadu had fallen to 352 for 7, and badly needed a partnership. L Balaji and Ganapathy started resolutely, facing an easier challenge against the spinner Piyush Chawla, who looked off-colour through the innings. The two had added 30, including a straight-driven boundary each, when Balaji was lured into edging a delivery off Imtiyaz. With eight wickets down, Ganapathy took charge, helped by a stubborn C Suresh.
The ninth-wicket partnership frustrated UP for 94 minutes, during which Kaif tried all the bowlers. The batsmen complemented each other, Ganapathy punishing any error with powerful hits and Suresh blocking anything thrown at him. When Suresh Raina finally got the breakthrough, in his second over, 48 had been added, five of which were scored by Suresh - off 79 deliveries. Ganapathy reached his half-century in 122 deliveries, including eight boundaries. Tea was delayed because nine wickets had fallen, and P Amarnath ran himself out in the last over before the rescheduled break. Despite runs being scored freely from the other end, Imtiaz put in a considerable effort too: bowling 12 overs for 36 runs and two wickets.
Ganapathy was on a roll, following up by getting the big wicket of Tanmay Srivastava in his second over. Srivastava uncharacteristically chased a wide delivery and edged to Badrinath at second slip. Shivakant Shukla and Suresh Raina survived - just about - the remaining 15.5 overs, scoring only 24 runs. Shukla, especially, was lucky to have come through unbeaten: he chased a couple of deliveries connecting only the air, and jabbed in an ungainly manner at a bouncer, only to be helped by the non existence of short leg. In the last over of the day, Raina hit a beautiful cover drive off C Suresh. The final play of the day also symbolised how much things rest on him.
Sidharth Monga is a staff writer at Cricinfo