The feisty Mohammad Kaif flung himself around at short cover and led from the front. The smart switches in bowling and imaginative field settings made things happen for Uttar Pradesh even though the surface held no devils.
The visitor, dismissing Tamil Nadu President’s XI for 207 and progressing to 59 without loss, moved into a strong position on the first day of the Kalpathi Buchi Babu tournament final at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Friday.
At stumps, the left-handed Tanmay Srivastava was unbeaten on 25 and Prashant Gupta on 28. The openers looked solid. The in-form B. Indrajith’s 87 (128b, 12x4, 1x6) was full of promise and poise, while the young Shahrukh Khan (67, 151b, 8x4, 1x6) fought hard. However, the rest of the batsmen appeared and disappeared in a hurry.
Earlier, Kaif made the right moves after winning the toss. The innovative field placements added teeth to the disciplined bowling. For instance, left-arm spinner Saurabh Kumar had a short gully, short cover, short extra-cover and short mid-off, with the intention of getting the batsmen to hit against the spin.
The pressure created by the field and the tightness of his bowling helped Saurabh scalp four wickets.
Left-arm wrist-spinner Kuldeep Singh bowled to a short-leg, short mid-wicket and short mid-on; there was no fielder in catching position on the off-side, including a slip. The close catchers on the on-side resulted in some loose strokes on the off.
After the openers departed early and key-man S. Badrinath was done in by an incoming delivery from paceman Amit Mishra, Indrajith delighted.
The compact right-hander, who had made three 90s and a big hundred during the competition, was assured in his footwork and stroked fluently on both sides. Some of his cover drives, in particular, were gorgeous. Indrajith has good hands, light feet and a sound temperament.
Shahrukh worked the ball around capably and pierced the off-side field with panache.
Yet, this was a day when captaincy won the highest marks. Kaif read the flow of the game well and ploys such as bringing on two medium-pacers, one of them a part-timer, in the middle of the innings and choking the flow of runs with a stump-to-stump line worked.
Save Indrajith and Shahrukh Khan, the home batsmen succumbed to the stress.
A group of kids from a local cricket academy livened up the proceedings, but there was little cheer for the host.
The scores: Tamil Nadu President’s XI 207 in 80.2 overs (B. Indrajith 87, M. Shahrukh Khan 67, Saurabh Kumar four for 57) vs Uttar Pradesh CA 59 for no loss in 24 overs (Tanmay Srivastava 25 batting, Prashant Gupta 28 batting).