Meghalaya were staring down the barrel of defeat but Swastic Chettri came to the rescue with an unbeaten 95 on the second day of the U-23 men’s Col CK Nayudu Trophy match against Arunachal Pradesh at the MCA Ground here today.
The day had mostly belonged to Arunachal until the third session when Swastic (95 not out from 136 balls) and Manish Sharma (28 from 36) saved the day with an 80-run partnership for the sixth wicket. After the latter was dismissed, Bipin Kumar Ray (2 not out) put up a valiant defence and kept Swastic company, surviving 35 deliveries until stumps. Meghalaya thus finished the day on 208/6, leading by 187 runs.
Meghalaya were all out for 203 yesterday and Arunachal were 101/2 at the close. The visitors largely dominated the morning session today and were motoring along nicely, largely thanks to Amarjeet Sharma’s 78 and Nabam Kama’s 35.
They began to lose their way thanks to the fiery fast bowling of Abhishek Kumar, Meghalaya’s hero with the ball. He bowled just 13 overs but claimed 5/41, ensuring his five-for by taking a catch off his own bowling at the end.
Nevertheless, Arunachal eked out a small first innings lead of 21 as they were dismissed for 224. The other wicket takers for Meghalaya were Bipin (3/46 in 15.4 overs), Sudhir Sahani (1/37 in 8) and Manish (1/47 in 22).
Meghalaya would have wanted to knock off those 21 runs without loss but that was not to be as Nishanta Chakraborty was clean bowled in the first over from Techi Dol, who finished the day with 4/56.
Mrinal Das, though, as he did in the first innings, went straight at the Arunachal bowlers, hitting the first ball for four. Off the front foot or hooking and pulling on the back, he looked supremely at ease and raced to 35 from 21 deliveries with four fours and two sixes before he became Techi’s second victim of the day.
From there, Arunachal kept chipping away and had reduced Meghalaya to 100/5. They were understandably buzzing with energy, while the hosts’ camp was more subdued.
That all changed post-tea and credit has to go to Swastic and Manish for the mature way they set about what would have been a tricky time with the clouds gathering overhead and the temperature dropping.
The pair kept the runs coming at a decent rate, with Swastic’s innings containing 19 fours. He approached his century calmly if a little more circumspectly but time ran out and he will have to get to his milestone tomorrow morning.