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Wadkar keeps Vidarbha afloat as Rest of India chip away

Akshay Wadkar plays a sweep PTI

Stumps Vidarbha 245 for 6 (Sanjay 65, Wadkar 50*, Karnewar 15*, Gowtham 2-33, Jadeja 2-66) trail Rest of India 330 by 85 runs

Despite losing only six wickets on the second day, Vidarbha failed to take control of the Irani Cup tie in Nagpur, as their attritional batting kept them 85 runs behind Rest of India's 330 when play ended.

It was because of some disciplined bowling from the RoI spinners that Vidarbha could not get away. K Gowtham (2-33) and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (2-66) broke stands at crucial junctures, as the spin trio - Rahul Chahar is the third - took five of the six wickets. The game was still in the balance with Akshay Wadkar, the wicketkeeper-batsman, leading the way for Vidarbha, but pacer Ankit Rajpoot's wicket of allrounder Aditya Sarwate for 18 three overs before stumps swung the pendulum RoI's way.

Vidarbha did put up three 50-plus stands through the course of the day, but with a run rate of only 2.72, they could never impose themselves. Opener R Sanjay (65) and No. 4 Ganesh Satish (48) anchored Vidarbha's innings in the first and second sessions, but their dismissals at important stages of the game pegged back their progress.

At stumps, Wadkar's unbeaten 98-ball 50 kept Vidarbha in the hunt for a lead, but he desperately needs one of the tail-enders to give him company.

The day began with Sanjay and captain Faiz Fazal playing cautiously for the first ten overs. Inswingers from Rajpoot and Tanveer-ul-Haq kept their run-flow in check, and by the tenth over, they had added only 15 runs. But after bunting the new ball for nearly an hour, batting became easier when spinners Gowtham and Jadeja were introduced.

The first Vidarbha wicket went to Gowtham soon after the pair had crossed the 50-run mark in the 21st over. Fazal prodded forward to defend an offbreak, but the ball held its line and grazed his glove. Ishan Kishan went up for a caught-behind appeal straightaway, but the umpire raised his finger only after consulting his partner.

Atharwa Taide, who was a late inclusion in the XI for the injured Wasim Jaffer, then lit up the morning with a late cut and a pull off Gowtham in the 25th over, effectively hitting him out of the attack. But Chahar, the legspinner, prised Taide out with a quicker delivery on middle stump that trapped the batsman in front.

That brought in Satish, who controlled proceedings before lunch in Sanjay's company, and they went on to add 62 for the third wicket. Satish, in particular, used his feet well to play the spinners, as they opted to bowl slow. Sanjay, on the other hand, preferred the sweep to deal with the spin.

The partnership, chanceless until it was broken, was taking the game Vidarbha's way, but Sanjay's dismissal - a chip off Jadeja going to Hanuma Vihari under the helmet at short cover in the 56th over - breathed new life in the RoI bowlers.

One wicket brought another from the opposite end, as Gowtham collected his second scalp. Mohit Kale tried to steer one, but only got a thick edge through to the wicketkeeper. The ball hit Kishan around the mid-section before lobbing into the air, and Kishan recovered to complete a smart take diving backwards. It required a confirmation from the TV umpire for Kale to start walking for just one.

But Gowtham, diving to field one off his own bowling in the same over, suffered a shoulder injury and had to be taken to the hospital for treatment.

Satish was in control through the second session until the penultimate over before tea. Jadeja, in his first over of a new spell, got a length ball to slide in rapidly, and trapped Satish right in front of middle stump two runs short of his half-century.

That brought in Aditya Sarwate, the allrounder who scored 102 in the Ranji Trophy quarter-final and a valuable second-innings 49 in the Ranji Trophy final. Sarwate, together with Wadkar, added 58 for the sixth wicket after tea. They pinched singles, ran hard doubles, and hit the occasional boundary to take Vidarbha past 200. Sarwate, however, fell ten minutes before stumps to a vicious inswinger from Rajpoot, trapped in front of off stump.

The last three overs were tentatively seen out by Wadkar, who reached his sixth half-century during that period, but at the other end, No. 8 Akshay Karnewar had no plans of dead-batting the day away. He struck three boundaries off his first five deliveries to force Rahane to set a more defensive field, and at stumps, he was by Wadkar's side with an unbeaten run-a-ball 15.