"As a leader and as an Indian international, the pressure was on Raina": Railways captain opens up after bowling UP out for 72
In what was a roller-coaster of a tie, Railways overpowered Uttar Pradesh by 21 runs on just the third day of the Ranji Trophy group stage match. After bowling out the visitors for 182 in the first innings, UP, at the Ekana International Cricket Stadium in Lucknow, amassed 250 in reply to take a 68 runs lead.
Subsequently, the hosts restricted Railways for 161 in their second innings and were left with just 94 runs to chase down, with two days in hand. However, in what was a whirlwind session of play, the visitors halted UP in their tracks and bowled them out for 72 runs.
Railways captain, Mahesh Rawat, opened up about the match in the post-match press conference.
The pitch at the under-construction ground deteriorated considerably and saw 24 LBW/bowled dismissals out of the 40 wickets that fell. The ball stayed low for better part of the match and batsmen failed to pick up the bounce. However, Rawat stated that the fact that match was an interesting one, it couldn't be termed as a bad publicity of the sport.
"One thing is that the game was interesting, if it was a dead rubber, then too, it wouldn't have been good for the game. Whoever applied themselves better, won it."
He added that UP were on the backfoot when he chose to bat first and ensured that the hosts would be playing the fourth innings.
"We knew beforehand that UP would play the fourth innings, and if we would've been in their place, hamara setback hota. I wouldn't say that we were sure shot to win the game, but we were confident nonetheless."
When asked about when exactly he thought during the match that he'd win it, he said, "When we saw Praveen Kumar coming on as an opener, we thought that it was a negative start from UP's side.
"90 runs in the fourth innings on this pitch is like 170 runs on a normal Indian wicket."
Suresh Raina, UP's captain, and a source of discussion between the majority of Indian Cricket fans, failed to see his team through and scored 6 and 29 in the two innings respectively. Talking about his second innings specifically, Rawat said, "Raina was tentative at the start, he mistimed a few shots. Some of the deliveries were staying low, some were bouncing more than expected. As a leader and as an Indian international, the pressure was on him to take the team through after being on the top for better part of the test match.
"Once it seemed that he was set, we started targetting the batsmen on the other end. And because wickets were falling at regular intervals, we were positive and ultimately got him."
A World Cup winner, Raina, was given a reprieve in the chase when Kings XI Punjab and Railway seemer Anureet Singh dropped him when he had just four runs to his name. Rawat, though, declined to blame the pacer for it.
"Part and parcel of the game. The drop only increased his hunger."
Raina's LBW was a wrong decision: UP team coach
UP's coach Mritunjay Tripathi was critical about his team's performance as well.
"Doesn't matter how the wicket is, 94 runs should have been chased any given day. We dominated for two and a half days, but Railways overpowered us in the last session of the match."
After UP were set a target of 94 runs, they sent Praveen Kumar out to open the innings. A baffling decision for everyone but the UP management.
"We thought that PK would score some boundaries at the top of the order and bring the target down. Also, when Tyagi and Rinnku were having that partnership for the ninth wicket, a run out ruined everything."
Tripathi blamed the umpire for Raina's downfall in the second innings.
"Raina's LBW was a wrong decision. We saw in the replays that it struck the bat before going on to hit the pad."
To wrap it all up, Tripathi added, "We'll come back in the subsequent matches"