Yusuf Pathan entered the field accompanied by a loud round of applause. But the crowd soon gasped collectively as Yusuf played an expansive waft off the first ball he faced from Ronit More, narrowly missing an outside edge.
Then came a wild attempt to flick More. Yusuf missed the ball to elicit a big shout for leg before, and immediately he played a crunchy shot off the pacer to collect four runs. In that 21-minute, 9-ball edgy stay at the crease, Yusuf showed precisely what was wrong with the Baroda top-order.
For the entire morning session, and in the initial part of the post-lunch period, they were too impatient. But a vastly impressive Deepak Hooda (142) showed them the way to bat on this pitch with a splendid innings, helping Baroda share the honours on day one. They were for 320 for eight at close on day one of the Ranji Trophy tie at the SDNRW Stadium here.
Karnataka pacers deserve a pat for playing on the patience of Baroda batsmen, sticking to a fine line in the first half of the day. The home side gave rest to its skipper R Vinay Kumar. But Abhimanyu Mithun and More ensured that Vinay’s absence wouldn’t felt on a hot day.
Mithun ran in hard all day from the Hunsur Road End, generating good amount of pace and bounce to keep the Baroda batsmen on their toes. More, operating from the Coffee Board End, was sharp and bouncy, and the odd ones that darted away put doubts in batsmen’s minds.
Mithun ousted Kedar Jadhav through an edge to KL Rahul, who took a nice catch diving to his right at third slip. After that early blow, Saurabh, Wakaskar (25, 64m, 41b), skipper Aditya Waghmode (14, 71m, 53b) and Hardik Pandya (24, 104m, 71b) seemed to be settling down. But none of them could patiently deal with the phase where Mithun and More tested them with tight spells.
Mithun bowled two productive and thrifty spells on either side of the first two sessions (6-2-13-1, 4-1-4-1), while More was effective in his first spell (7-0-13-2).
Karnataka might have enjoyed an even more fruitful day had S Arvind maintained the steadiness of his colleagues. The left-arm pacer, who missed the last match against Madhya Pradesh due to a niggle, was a tad short and wide on this day, something very unusual for him.
He didn’t leak runs, but couldn’t make the batsmen play enough to induce an edge.
However, Baroda were not completely out of the frame. They had their moments, and owed them to the 19-year-old Hooda. The right-hander was involved in three significant alliances with the 6th, 7th and 8th wickets that jointly yielded 217 runs – 87 (124 balls) with Irfan Pathan, 58 off 103 balls with Pinal Shah, and 72 off 62 balls with Swapnil Singh respectively.
Playing in only his sixth first-class game, Hooda’s maturity was quite remarkable. He never looked hurried at the crease, and displayed good awareness of the off-stump too. Had some of the more experienced batsmen showed the same tenacity, Baroda would have walked away with bigger grins.
Hooda’s innings was not just about firmness. Occasionally, the Rohtak-born batsman unshackled his exuberance too till he got out at the fag end of the day. In the company of an equally solid Irfan, who played his 100th first-class game, Hooda targeted Karnataka spinners Abrar Kazi and Shreyas Gopal, and both of them gave him ample scoring opportunities.
Hooda brought his hundred with a thumping six off Shreyas over long off and milked the last 43 runs off just 28 balls. Hooda’s aggressive approach and the increasing waywardness of the home bowlers meant Baroda added 134 runs in 29 overs in the last session to regain a good chunk of the lost ground. Scoreboard BARODA (I Innings): Saurabh Wakaskar c Gautam b Mithun 25 (64m, 41b, 4x4), Kedar Devdhar c Rahul b Mithun 1 (14m, 12b), Aditya Waghmode c Gautam b More 14 (71m, 53b), Hardik Pandya c Uthappa b Gopal 24 (104m, 71b, 4x4), Yusuf Pathan c Gautam b Mithun 5 (21m, 9b, 1x4), Deepak Hooda c Gautam b Mithun 142 (272m, 194b, 13x4, 6x6), Irfan Pathan (run out) 34 (96m, 61b, 6x4), Pinal Shah lbw Kazi 30 (70m, 58b, 6x4), Swapnil Singh (batting) 28 (54m, 36b, 5x4), Gagandeep Singh (batting) 5 (10m, 11b, 1x4), Extras (B-4, LB-5, NB-3) 12, Total (for 8 wkts, 90 overs) 320.
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (Devdhar), 2-37 (Wakaskar), 3-45 (Waghmode), 4-52 (Yusuf), 5-93 (Pandya), 6-180 (Irfan), 7-238 (Pinal), 8-310 (Hooda).
Bowling: Sreenath Arvind 21-6-40-0 (nb-1), Abhimanyu Mithun 21-5-75-3, Ronit More 17-2-52-2 (w-2), Karun Nair 6-1-13-0, Manish Pandey 3-1-4-0, Shreyas Gopal 13-2-78-1, Abrar Kazi 9-0-49-1.