Pinal, Yadav star on hard-fought day
Baroda 324 for 8 (Pinal 77, Kolsawala 64, Waghmode 52, Yadav 4-73, Chahar 3-72) trail Rajasthan 394 (Bist 77, Kanitkar 61, Bhatt 5-103) by 70 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Rajasthan's bowlers plugged away relentlessly at Baroda's batsmen, creating pressure through tight lines, and despite three half-centuries, the hosts were still trailing by 70 at stumps on the third day on a Moti Bagh wicket that played better than it did on Wednesday.
Vivek Yadav persisted around off stump with his legbreaks, and though he did not get the sharp turn that the Baroda spinners had generated, his accuracy forced the inexperienced batsmen into mistakes. Jaykishan Kolsawala and Kedar Devdhar had begun positively, but Yadav came on in the eighth over of the day and the runs dried up. He bowled seven overs by the first drinks break, conceding just nine runs, and removed Kolsawala and Devdhar. They were harmless deliveries, but considering how the batsmen had been tied down, it was inevitable in a way that they succumbed to them. Kolsawala fished way outside off to a ball that was angled across him, and Devdhar looked to cut a half-tracker without much feet movement, and the inside edge rattled the stumps. Baroda had slipped from 110 for 1 to 113 for 3, and the onus was now on their big signing, Ambati Rayudu, to deliver.
Rayudu was looking alright, and showed his class with two elegant cover-drives when the spinners pitched marginally fuller. But Deepak Chahar - who has been wearing a strap around his right arm throughout this game - came on six overs before lunch, and trapped Rayudu leg-before with his third delivery, which straightened after angling in on middle. It looked a marginal call, as Rayudu was struck on the thigh pad, but the fact that he was caught on the back foot, and was hit on the back leg, would have played on the umpire's mind. Rayudu had been the beneficiary of a marginal decision a couple of overs ago, when Yadav hit the non-striker's stumps from mid-on with the batsman struggling to make his ground. One replay showed his bat was just on the crease, while one from another angle showed Rayudu had just made his ground. The third umpire had then ruled in favour of Rayudu, but his eventual dismissal meant captain Pinal Shah was left alone to guide the remaining batsmen.
Pinal fought back admirably in the company of Aditya Waghmode, who was playing his second first-class innings. Both didn't make the mistake that Kolsawala and Devdhar had, and used their feet against the spinners to regularly pick up the singles. Waghmode was especially quick to put the loose deliveries away, flicking and slog-sweeping the spinners for boundaries. At the other end, Pinal was stepping out and lifting them over midwicket and long-on. The momentum seemed to be shifting as the pair added 90 runs at just under four an over, but Waghmode's impatience after reaching his half-century brought about his downfall. He looked to whack Yadav through extra cover but was superbly snapped up by Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who dived to take a low catch.
Rajasthan took the new ball, and the lower order needed to support Pinal, who was now looking to score off almost every delivery. But Swapnil Singh went for an injudicious pull off Pankaj Singh to be caught brilliantly by Vineet Saxena at extra-cover, who held on despite colliding with Yadav, running in from mid-off. Chahar was striving for impact from the other end, and getting some movement with the new ball. He soon removed Abhijit Karambelkar, and then got the big wicket of Pinal who walked across, looking to play the ball square, but was caught plumb in front.
Murtuja Vahora and Sankalp Vohra showed the track did not hold much danger, with an unbeaten 36-run ninth-wicket stand, but Rajasthan need only two good deliveries tomorrow to take the lead, which could well prove decisive.
Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo