Uttar Pradesh 291 for 9 (Raina 123, Bhatt 5-48, Patel 4-74) v Baroda
Left out of India's Test squad, Suresh Raina nudged the national selectors with an attacking century on the opening day of Uttar Pradesh's second-round match against Baroda at Moti Bagh. Raina's 123, off 154 balls, helped UP to 291 on an evenly-matched day. Baroda struck with quick wickets on the final session and had all but wrapped up the innings before stumps.
The pitch at Moti Bagh wasn't as tranquil as the surroundings, though. There was bounce and plenty of turn for the spinners as the day wore on and Raina did well to overcome those challenges, and in particular the left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt, who took 5 for 98.
UP lost all nine wickets to the spin duo of Bhatt and the offspinner Utkarsh Patel. Bhatt had Mukul Dagar caught at backward short leg before Utkarsh got one to turn square to induce a thin edge off Tanmay Srivastava to the wicketkeeper Pinal Shah. It was the first of five dismissals for Pinal, who was impressive behind the stumps off the spinners.
Mohammad Kaif and Raina settled in after lunch to add 85 for the third wicket before Kaif was caught behind trying to cut Bhatt. Raina and Parvinder Singh played aggressively in their stand of 110 for the fourth. Raina smashed four sixes and one of those, over long-on, brought up his century.
Raina is among several possible contenders for a Test spot, one of which will be vacated by Sachin Tendulkar at the end of the West Indies Tests. Rohit Sharma was given a chance thanks to his splendid limited-overs form and he grabbed the opportunity with century on debut in Kolkata in a pressure scenario. Simultaneously, across the country, Raina scored a century to give the selectors something to think about before they pick the team to South Africa.
Aggression, however, got the better of both Raina and Parvinder. Parvinder gave Bhatt the charge and was stumped, before Raina charged the same bowler and was caught at deep cover. UP lost their way after tea and Bhatt brought up his five-wicket haul with a swagger, taking a low return catch that rocketed towards him. As a send-off, Bhatt showed five fingers to the departing Praveen Gupta, as West Indies fast bowler Fidel Edwards does. UP collapsed from 249 for 3 to 291 for 9 at stumps.