At least three Vidarbha batsmen failed to carry on after getting their eyes in as Rest of India spinners Krishnappa Gowtham and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja kept a tight leash on them. Sanjay, who had a below-par Ranji Trophy season with just 279 at an average of 23.25, ground out a well-earned fifty off 137 balls.
The 23-year-old opener put on 50 for the first wicket with skipper Faiz Fazal (27), before the latter edged Gowtham through to the ’keeper Ishan Kishan to end a promising stand. India Under-19 batsman Atharwa Taide was thrown into the deep end when he was asked to replace Wasim Jaffer on the morning of the match.
Taide (15), in only his fourth first-class match, was the second man to depart after missing a sweep off Rajasthan leg-spinner Rahul Chahar. Sanjay then proceeded to blunt the Rest of India attack in the company of Vidarbha’s other out-of-state batsman Ganesh Satish.
Satish was the more aggressive of the two in a 62-run stand for the third wicket. However, Sanjay threw his wicket away by driving Jadeja straight to Hanuma Vihari at short-cover. The opener managed 65 off 166 balls with nine boundaries.
Rest of India immediately struck again by sending back young Mohit Kale (1) with Gowtham again providing the breakthrough. Satish, who shifted base from Karnataka to Vidarbha, also fell two short off his fifty when Jadeja trapped him plumb in front.
Vidarbha appeared in plenty of strife after Satish’s dismissal at 168 for 5. But just like the Ranji Trophy final against Saurashtra last week, Akshay Wadkar led the fightback with the lower middle-order.
Wicketkeeper Wadkar managed to stem the rot to an extent in the company of Aditya Sarwate (18). The duo put on 58 runs for the sixth wicket before Uttar Pradesh seamer Ankit Rajpoot came back to break the stand.
Wadkar, who scored an important 45 in the Ranji final last week, completed his fifty off 96 balls in the final over the day. He has Akshay Karnewar, who has already compiled a run-a-ball 15, for company.
Rest of India skipper Ajinkya Rahane would be more pleased after the proceedings on the second day. On a track that is increasingly assisting the spinners, they have maintained a firm grip over the Ranji champions.
If they can wrap up the Vidarbha innings quickly on the third morning, Rest of India will be in the driver’s seat to take back Irani Cup title from the hosts.
Brief scores: Rest of India 1st inngs 330 vs Vidarbha 245/6 in 90 overs (R Sanjay 65, Akshay Wadkar batting 50, Ganesh Satish 48; Krishnappa Gowtham 2/33, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 2/66)
First Published: February 13, 2019, 5:29 PM IST