Couple of tons for Baroda, three points for Maharashtra

Early stumps seemed on cards when the mandatory overs began. With the game heading for a draw, Maharashtra skipper Rohit Motwani would have expected the Baroda batsmen to walk off the pitch any moment. But that's when the pair of Saurabh Wakaskar and Abhimanyu Chauhan thought of increasing their run tally, forcing the home team to be on field a bit longer.

Eventually the two crossed the three-digit mark but that didn't change the outcome of the game. The home team, by virtue of taking the first innings lead, walked away with three points.

Maharashtra's new coach Surendra Bhave, who replaced Dermot Reeves before this game, felt the result would help the confidence of the team. "The boys are ready to take on Karnataka in the next game. We will play a solid game. We want to go for an outright win and take maximum points."

Karnataka test

However, that might be easier said than done as Karnataka would look to come hard at the bottom-placed team as a win with a bonus point would see them tied for the second place with Baroda.

Baroda finished day four at 231/1 on a pitch that played true for the entire duration of game. Maharashtra had declared their first innings at 449 for eight after some lusty blows from Shrikant Mundhe (46) and Nikit Dhumal (27). They had help Maharashtra take a 87-run lead.

Baroda were put in to bat an hour before lunch and Shrikant Mundhe immediately snapped up Anupam Gupta with a ball jagged in off the seam. However, after that there was no joy for Maharashtra as a combination of a flat wicket and dismal show by Maharashtra fielders and bowlers allowed Chauhan and Wakaskar to help themselves to a run feast.

Maharashtra were dealt another blow after lunch as their specialist spinner, Akshay Darekar, suffered an injury as he took a knock on his knee while fielding. Darekar played no further part in the day and Motwani was forced to rely on the part-time off-spin of Ankeet Bawne and Kedar Jadhav.

... contd.

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