Eklavya makes most of chance, boosts UPís lead

Uttar Pradesh team were in a spot of bother when Eklavya Dwivedi, playing his first Ranji match of the season walked in. Moments earlier, opener Tanmay Srivastava, who had scored 73 had just been castled by Haryana pacer Mohit Sharma and at 121/4, UP were only 72 runs ahead.

And another batting failure, like in the first innings, would have surely ended all hopes of the tall wicket-keeper harboured of making a grand return to first-class cricket. Dwivedi got his chance team's regular wicketkeeper, Amir Khan, suffered an injury. But in company of Parvinder Singh, Dwivedi, not only survived this test, but prospered as the duo succeeded in steadying the UP's second innings at Dr Akhilesh Das Gupta Stadium. Crucially they stretched the lead to 168 runs, after looking precariously close to disaster. At stumps, Parvinder was unbeaten on 45 while Dwivedi was batting on 51. If not for this pair's fightback, the situation looked grim in the UP dressing room after each dismissal.

While the opening pair of Srivastava and Mukul Dagar added 47 runs, Dagar's dismissal Ė a regulation catch to wicketkeeper Nitin Saini off the bowling of Sharma Ė there was hardly any sizeable partnership to boost home side's confidence.

And when former India leg-spinner accounted for former captain Mohammad Kaif, in the post-lunch session, the sparse crowd could sense another impending failure. Kaif, who was looking steady in his brief innings of 19, was smartly held by Saini. At the other end, Srivastava was going steady after getting a reprieve while on 31. He was dropped at second slip of a Harshal Patel delivery in the 18th over. And when skipper Suresh Raina was stumped, trying to hit Mishra out of the ground, it was panic time for those who were present at the stadium. Srivastava's was the last wicket to fall, he was castled by Sharma. He had scored 73.

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