Natt quite a batsman for Baroda

Baroda pacer Gagandeep Singh Natt, like most cricketers who change their discipline mid-way through their careers, thanks all his coaches back in Madhya Pradesh who scouted a better left arm bowler in him than an opening batsman. The 25-year-old shifted base to Baroda eight years ago, but even as he became one of his side's main bowling options, retained his belief in him as a batsman. The 'tailender' would always find time to knock a few balls.

On Sunday, all the hard work done on the sidelines paid off as Natt, playing his fifth Ranji game, made an important unbeaten 70 (7x4, 3x6), and along with senior batsman Ketan Panchal (72, 7x4, 3x6) stitched together 126 runs for the eighth wickets at stumps on Day two. The duo ensured that Baroda batted six sessions to put up a massive 525 for seven.

Overnight batsmen Abhimanyu Chauhan (113, 18x4) and captain Ambati Rayudu (131, 22x4) added 70 more runs, taking their partnership to 213 before Sumit Narwal sent back Chauhan. In the period between lunch and tea, Delhi threatened to undo the good work as Parvinder Awana and Rajat Bhatia struck quick blows as Baroda lost five wickets in around 20 overs. However, Natt and Panchal had other ideas, keeping Delhi from further breakthroughs for 42 overs until stumps.

Home advantage lost

With the match looking set to be decided on the basis of first innings lead, Delhi have lost the advantage twice while bowling — once when Baroda struggled at 109/3 and Chauhan-Rayudu stole the show, and again at 399/7 only for Natt-Panchal to combine well.

"When I joined Panchal, I immediately told him that he need not worry as I was confident of providing support. I had my doubts whether I could score runs in Ranji cricket but batting with Panchal has assured me that I can play like a batsman," said Natt. Having braved body blows from Narwal to play the innings of his short career, Natt knows Baroda will rely on him with the ball too. The left arm medium pacer had picked a five wicket haul against Karnataka in Baroda's season opener. From being ruled out by his doctors after knee and ankle surgeries, to being his team's hope with bat and ball, Gagandeep Singh Natt has come a long way.

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