Baroda youngster Kedar Devdhar, playing in his maiden first-class season, scored a remarkable unbeaten century in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Railways at the Moti Bagh Palace ground here on Saturday.
After nearly four sessions of dull cricket, the fearless right-hander lit up the contest with an outstanding display with the willow for four hours, outshining even Yusuf Pathan and Ambati Rayudu.
The 21-year-old Devdhar's unconquered 122 (215b, 16x4, 1x6) exposed Railways' meagre resources on a surface that had become predictable and comfortable to bat on. His knock thrilled his teammates as well as a goodly crowd that had come to cheer the team.
Devdhar showed good footwork and splendid strokeplay to help Baroda conclude the second day at 303 for four, 55 ahead of Railways.
After seamer Murtuja Vahora made short work of Railways' defiance in 26 minutes by removing Yere Goud and last man Anureet Singh, the Baroda openers — the experienced Connor Williams and Jaikishan Kolsawala — were a bundle of nerves and couldn't score runs freely.
It was only after the arrival of Devdhar in the 20th over and Yusuf in the 38th did Baroda get going. The two took the attack to the seamers as well as left-arm spinner Murali Kartik.
Yusuf (68, 51b) raced to his half-century in half-an-hour with four sixes and six fours while Devdhar exploded, choosing the backfoot punches, pulls and drives to move into top gear. The third-wicket stand produced 115 off 113 balls before Yusuf departed at the stroke of tea, Anureet taking a smart catch at deep cover.
Railways might sensed an opportunity at that stage, but Rayudu's sparking 41 (34b, 7x4, 1x6) took the game away. The fourth-wicket pair of Devdhar and Rayudu raised 79 in just 42 minutes before the latter fell to a risky sweep shot.
Devdhar, on the other hand, employed the sweep shot well to send leg-spinner Karan Sharma over the square-leg fence and reach his century. An on-drive for four off the last ball of the day brought a fitting end to his commanding performance.
Railways — 1st innings: S. Khanolkar (run out) 7, M. Kartik c Rayudu b Yusuf 57, S. Bangar c Shah b Munaf 2, P. Awasthi c Solanki b Munaf 34, Y. Goud lbw b Vahora 46, M. Rawat b Munaf 5, D. Salvi b Munaf 0, K. Sharma lbw b Yusuf 4, J.P. Yadav c Rayudu b Bhatt 42, N. Chauhan (not out) 35, Anureet Singh c Rayudu b Vahora 0; Extras (b-5, lb-8, nb-2, w-1): 16; Total (in 95.5 overs): 248.
Fall of wickets: 1-12, 2-25, 3-109, 4-111, 5-117, 6-120, 7-125, 8-181, 9-248.
Baroda bowling: Munaf 29-8-88-4, Vahora 17.5-6-48-2, Vora 13-7-20-0, Bhatt 16-10-28-1, Yusuf 19-7-50-2, Devdhar 1-0-1-0.
Baroda — 1st innings: C. Williams c Rawat b Anureet 21, J. Kolsawala b Bangar 18, K. Devdhar (batting) 122, Yusuf c Anureet b Bangar 68, A. Rayudu lbw b Sharma 41, R. Solanki (batting) 18; Extras (lb-4, nb-10, w-1): 15; Total (for four wkts. in 83 overs): 303.
Fall of wickets: 1-36, 2-70, 3-185, 4-264.
Railways bowling: Anureet 15-2-60-1, Yadav 16-5-36-0, Bangar 15-5-38-2, Kartik 19-2-69-0, Chauhan 9-0-56-0, Sharma 9-2-40-1.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy