Rajvardhan takes charge; State in final

Top-scores, bags 3 wickets to be saviour for team

Rajvardhan takes charge; State in final
Rajvardhan Hangargekar 93* & 3/35

PUNE: Rajvardhan Hangargekar peaked and how! The seamer who all the while let the red cherry do the talking showed that he can be a game-changer as well.

On a day when Maharashtra faced the wall, Rajvardhan’s heroics came in handy as they overcame Hyderabad by 34-runs in Semifinal Final-2 of the Vinoo Mankad Trophy, at the Narendra Modi Stadium Ground ‘A’, Motera, Ahmedabad.

Defending 197, after being put in to bat by the opponents, Maharashtra ensured they made the final and next play Haryana.

It was a forgettable start for Maharashtra losing opener Yash Boramani off the third ball of the day by Bhuvangagiri Punnaiah, who otherwise bowled the most expensive spell for his team.

Thereafter, Maharashtra clawed back through Arshin Kulkarni and Maharashtra skipper Abhishek Pawar putting on 58, before the latter fell after a patient innings lasting 51 balls.

Having restored some semblity, Maharashtra were in for a bigger surprise – they suffered a top-and-middle order batting collapse.

Five wickets – Shubham Dhas, Kaushal Tambe, Arshin, Akhilesh Gawale, Vicky Ostwal – fell in a span of 12.2 overs reducing the innings to 83/7. Maharashtra, at this juncture, stared down the barrel, literally.

With Kharat at the crease, in walked Rajvardhan, who took on the onus of keeping the innings intact and scoring as well. In a dominating inning, Rajvardhan proved a point with a slam-bang inning. His 62-ball stay at the crease had 13 hits that rolled over the ropes including the ‘maximum,’ yielding 68 out of a season-best 92 n.o that he ended up with.

From 83/7 he smashed out an innings that was unforgettable.

Sashank M  proved hero for Hyderabad and tormenter for Maharashtra finishing with dream figures of 10-5-9-4 – the best on either side.

Hyderabad’s reply was no better. They lost opener Krithik Reddy off the first ball to Rajvardhan! The innings thereafter lacked someone who could take up the scoring mantle. In fact, barring Aman Rao (61) and Tilak Verma (21) who pushed the total to 63 after the early setback there was not a single partnership that lasted the distance.

Rajwardhan, in the company of NN Thakur, lapped up six wickets among themselves claiming three each and sent back the Hyderabad batter periodically.

Murugan Abhishek (24 n.o) offered some resistance, but at the other end, there was no company that could play a big inning. Hyderabad’s innings folded in the 47th over.