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.

Just when UP seemed to be in crises with the scoreboard reading 121 for four, Parvinder and Dwivedi showed great application to steady the innings.

Dwivedi was thrilled to make his chance count."I was under a bit of pressure as this was his comeback match. I was just trying to play for time as some of the wickets had fallen. Parvinder gave me a lot of confidence as he remains calm and bats well in tricky situations," said Dwivedi, who made his first-class debut also at the same venue. UP team's batting coach Rizwan Shamshad said, "The team batted well today as Haryana bowlers were disciplined bowling attack. It was Eklavya's first Ranji match of the season. Parvinder showed good maturity in his batting. Though Tanmany has scored today but I expect more runs from a player like him."

"Tomorrow we intend to give Haryana a target of at least 250 or so. We want to play positive cricket and give them 60 to 65 overs as we would like to have an outright victory but a lot depends on how the wicket behaves tomorrow as well," he said.

RAJPOOT'S MAIDEN FIVE-FOR

Earlier, replying to UP's first innings total of 227, Haryana innings folded at a total of 276 runs ó after taking a lead of 49 runs. Tailenders Jayant Yadav (24) and Mohit Sharma (8) could add just 5 more runs in 3.1 overs to their team's overnight total of 271 for eight in 99 overs before their wickets were taken by pacer Ankit Rajpoot.

With this Rajpoot collected six wickets giving away 68 runs which is best haul of his brief career. The 19-year-old Kanpur boy seems to hold good promise as this is his first season in Ranji Trophy and he had taken four wickets in an innings in the match against Baroda which was just his second Ranji outing.

BRIEF SCORES: Uttar Pradesh 227 all out in 73 overs & 217/4 in 82 overs (Tanmay Srivastav 73, Eklavya Dwivedi batting 51, Parvinder Singh batting 45; Mohit Sharma 2/49, Amit Mishra 2/55) vsHaryana 276 all out in 102.1 overs.

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