Remarkable scenes unfolded at the MCA Ground on Sunday, as Meghalaya took firm command of their U-23 men’s Col CK Nayudu Trophy plate group semifinal against Mizoram.
Abhishek Kumar took 6/4 and PM Santhosh 4/29 as the pair of fast bowlers cleaved their way through Mizoram, blitzing the visitors for just 33 in 10.4 overs. Meghalaya then amassed 230 all out in their first innings and at stumps Mizoram were 18/1 in their second outing, trailing by 179 runs.
Mizoram went counter to the trend and chose to bat first after winning the toss but the decision went against them almost from the start. Being bowled out inside 11 overs, and in just an hour, was something never seen before at this ground at this level.
While the Polo pitch has offered help to fast bowlers in the morning this season, it is definitely not a 33-run surface. Mizoram wicketkeeper C Vanlalhruaia made 21, or two-thirds of the runs, but all of his team mates were out for single figures, including six ducks.
Despite the shock to the system, Mizoram came out determined to fight their way back into the match and they made early inroads, reducing the hosts to 69/5. However, a crucial partnership between Joydeepan Deb (61 from 104) and Manish Sharma (23 from 23) steadied the Meghalaya innings. Joydeep and Santhosh then put on 73 runs for the seventh wicket, with both hitting 12 fours each. Santhosh was eventually out for 59 from 94 balls and his was a really heroic innings.
After his bowling efforts, Santhosh picked up a niggle that hampered his ability to run between the wickets. He thus had to deal in fours, especially towards the end of his knock, and he brought up his half-century with a cracking boundary down the ground. The injury, however, was enough to keep him off the field when Mizoram began their second innings.
With a deficit of 197 and starting their second essay just before stumps, it was not going to be easy for Mizoram but they survived 9 overs for the loss of only one wicket, which was taken by Manish (1/1 in 4 overs) bowling left-arm spin. The visitors, though, will have a humongous task tomorrow, with Meghalaya definitely the favourites.