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Raina lauds UP’s all-round brilliance in final

Baroda captain, Irfan Pathan, rues lack of partnership for the lost T20 final

Suresh Raina led Uttar Pradesh to their maiden Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy win with a comprehensive win against Baroda in front of an enthusiastic crowd which had gathered at the Wankhede Stadium on January 20, 2016. Leading from the front, the left-hand batsman helped set up the match with a 37-ball 47 not out and then captained the team to victory.

Put in to bat it was up to Uttar Pradesh to negotiate the Irfan Pathan-led Baroda attack and set a competitive total on the board. And the UP captain shouldered the responsibility. Coming in to bat at No 3, his knock was crucial to the team’s victory which earned him the man of the match as well.

Reflecting on the significance of Raina’s knock his opposite number, Irfan later explained, “It was important that one batsman stayed till the end on this pitch which was slightly slower than other pitches and that’s what Raina did. We couldn’t do the same thing (while chasing 164). Raina was there when the new ball as well as the old ball was there that’s why he could play the shots whenever it was required.”

Elaborating on his knock, Raina said, “When Prashant (Gupta) and I went in to bat we talked about being there till the end because their bowling was good. Irfan was bowling well, Munaf (Patel) too and then (Hardik) Pandya (too was bowling well) so our plan was that (having) around 160 (runs) would be good (contest).”

On the eve of the match, Raina had mentioned that it could be his game. Reminded of the same, the UP captain said, “I work hard and sometimes you feel that something is going to happen. Before the final I was scoring 20-25 runs. I was just telling myself to look to bat through, look to bat with the few batsmen in the middle and then I can accelerate later on. I feel that if you have wickets in hand then you can easily rotate strike later on. That’s what we did as a bating unit. I think Prashant myself, Umang (Sharma) and then Piyush (Chawla) came and batted really well.”

Raina had words of praise for his bowlers, who defended the target with ease. “Credit to the bowlers, they bowled really well. They executed the plans really well, specially our spinners. (Pacers) Praveen Kumar, Amit Mishra, Ankit Rajpoot (bowled well) then in the middle when Piyush (Chawla) and Kuldeep (Yadav) bowled (well) that made us believe we can win from anywhere.”

“Kuldeep hasn’t played much. He bowls lot in the nets and he always kept working hard. Piyush is always telling him to be positive, because in T20 you can get hit for a six and the bowler can feel a little down. But he was still fligting the ball, bowling chinaman so that shows how much of a tough character he has so I am very happy with his performance.

“Piyush has always done well for UP. He has lot of experience in international cricket as well as in IPL so that’s why I bowled six overs upfront with the fast bowlers. I thought Piyush can bowl one over in powerplay and then in the middle I changed Kuldeep’s bowling end because there was breeze. Pandya and (Deepak) Hooda (who were batting at the time) can hit really well. And Piyush also told me he can bowl from there,” Raina said.

On his team’s approach to the chase, Irfan said, “We kept losing wickets. It’s a T20 game, but partnerships are very crucial and we kept doing that in the other games we had some or the partnership. Especially in this match it didn’t happen, that is one of the reasons that we lost. But having said that, Baroda has done well throughout the tournament and I am really proud of the way the boys have responded and played.”

Prajakta Pawar

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UP’s spin-twins reveal their victory recipe

Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav talk about their partnership in Syed Mushtaq Ali final

Kuldeep Yadav has come some distance since he lead the Under-19 UP team in a match against Mumbai in the Cooch Behar Trophy at the Wankhede Stadium. On Wednesday he played a pertinent role in UP’s title win in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. The 21-year old bowling in tandem with senior campaigner Piyush Chawla seized the advantage for UP as they defended 163 against Baroda.

“I remember that day when I played for the U19 (UP) team against Mumbai. It was good, it was lucky for me as because of that performance I got a call-up to the Mumbai Indians team. Now to play in the senior team and under Raina bhai is a very pleasing thing,” Yadav said while reflecting on the bygone time.

He had an able guide in Chawla besides the experienced captain as he bowled at a crucial time in the game. In the seven-over duration that they bowled spin on trot, the pair had conceded 24 runs and Kuldeep had sent back the in-form Hardik Pandya and the equally hard-hitting Deepak Hooda. “Once you push the required run rate up in T20 games, in domestic cricket it is very difficult for batsmen coming in (later) and chasing ten runs per over in the last eight overs. I understand two overs 20 runs is still easy but eight overs 90 odd runs is never easy,” Chawla said.

Speaking about the partnership, Chawla said, “We bowled well in the partnership. In those seven overs the course of the game changed.”
So what had the senior pro told the young chinaman bowler? “In Bombay there is bounce in the wicket so the moment you flight the ball a bit too much it is easy for the batsman so I told him even if you are bowling slow, bowl a lower trajectory because it is not that easy (to bat). Don’t give the batsman time to come underneath the ball that’s what I was doing and told him the same thing as well and it worked.,” Chawla said
With 47 for one at the end of the powerplay while chasing 164 runs, Baroda were very much in the game with quite a few hard-hitting batsmen in their ranks. However, when the two spinners operated in tandem, the opposition had little manoeuvring space left as they were in trouble at 77 for four at the end of 14 overs. 

“It was a crucial spell as they were on top after the first six-seven overs. They were getting runs off every over. And what PC bhai always told me (helped), “Kuldeep said. “He tells me how to bowl, when to give flight to the ball and when not. What kind of trajectory to bowl specially in T20 cricket and what kind of variations to use.”

Speaking about his journey so far, Yadav said, “The most important thing is that I have become fitter than before and become more energetic on the ground and am able to make quick changes (field athletically). In the bowling too I have learnt a lot since I have been able to spent time with lot of seniors like Gauti bhai (Gautam Gambhir), Wasim bhai (Wasim Akram), Brad Hogg and Sunil Narine. It is about implementing that here.

“Their advice is to never take pressure and back your strengths; bowl to your strength. My strength is to spin the ball and turn; I don’t use a lot of pace. I have added a few variations. Whenever I try to bowl with more pace I have conceded runs,” he explained.

With the title under the belt UP were happy lot as they celebrated the victory. “It is always good to get a win under the belt and especially nine on the trot, the way we played as team, the guys did a fantastic job and all the youngsters and everyone did a really good job,” Chawla concluded. 

Prajakta Pawar

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