Ruturaj at his best; State win

Maharashtra chase Madhya Pradesh challenge with 2-balls to spare

Ruturaj at his best; State win
Ruturaj Gaikwad (136)

PUNE: Skipper Ruturaj Gaikwad was at his brilliant best and led Maharashtra to a nerve wrenching five-wicket win over Madhya Pradesh in Round I - Elite Group D, Vijay Hazare Trophy 2021, at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot.

Madhya Pradesh, choosing to bat after skipper Aditya Shrivastava won the toss, put the Maharashtra bowlers to the sword and amassed 328/6. In reply, Ruturaj-led Maharashtra chased the target losing five wickets and completed the win in the 50th over with two balls to spare.

The Maharashtra chase was entirely about their batters holding their nerves till the end. Importantly, they braced up to the challenge in an innings that had Ruturaj (136) as the fulcrum. Ruturaj’s innings accounted for 80 runs off boundaries, which made him the top batsmen of the current season for most runs from fours and sixes in an innings.

The prolific batter not just stuck around to give the team a sound start, but also took them into the “belief zone” by first leading his side to 261/3 before departing after a 112-ball stay. His presence also gave Maharashtra a solid start which yielded 107 for the opening wicket, before fellow opener Yash Nahar (49) departed.

Maharashtra had several contributors to their win. The cameo knock of Rahul Tripathi (56) at a time when they lost Ruturaj and Azim Kazi (1) and 272/4 after 41.2 overs. It was a juncture when Maharashtra needed 56 off 44 balls and the innings precariously placed. Likewise, Ankit Bawne (22 n.o) and Swapnil Fulpagar (22 n.o) held the ship after Rahul departed with responsibility and determination.

Such was the end that, Maharashtra needing 3 off 6 in the 50th over had Swapnil hammer Puneet Datey for the four after playing out two dot balls.  

Earlier, Madhya Pradesh was led by two centurions as they scored at a staggering 6.56 runs per over. The innings was built upon by middle-order batter Shubham Sharma (108) and Aditya Shrivastava (104) who were involved in a 175-run partnership for the fourth wicket.

Shubham comparatively played out an easy inning, however, his skipper in comparison was quicker. The two joined forces after Maharashtra forced them on the backfoot with 107/3 (22.1 overs). Ashay Palkar had two early successes before wicketkeeper opening batter Abhishek Bhandari (70) was run out.

Opening bowlers Ashay (2/86) and Mukesh Chaudhary (2/54) impressed for Maharashtra.