Nagpur: Wicketkeeper Akshay Wadkar led Vidarbha's fightback with an unbeaten half-century as the Ranji champions remained in hunt for a first innings lead after the second day of their Irani Cup match against Rest of India.
After restricting Rest to a modest 330 on the opening day, Vidarbha ended the second day at 245 for 6 with Wadkar and Akshay Karnewar (15 not out) holding fort. The hosts still trail by 85 runs.
Vidarbha openers skipper Faiz Fazal (27) and Sanjay Ramaswamy (65) looked comfortable in the beginning and put up a 50-run stand.
But as things were looking good, Karnataka spinner Krishnappa Gowtham struck, removing Fazal, who was caught behind by rival wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan.
One down Atharva Taide (15) did not last long after being trapped in front of the wicket by young leg-spinner Rahul Chahar, who impressed everyone with his sharp leg breaks.
However, Ganesh Satish (48) then joined hands with Ramaswamy as the duo tried to resurrect the Vidarbha innings with their 64-run third wicket stand.
Satish struck four boundaries and a six, while Ramaswamy's innings was laced with nine fours. However, after Ramaswamy's departure, Vidarbha lost two quick wickets -- Mohit Kale (1) and Satish – as they slumped from 146 for 3 to 168 for 5.
Then wicket-keeper Wadkar, who took time to settle, started the fightback as he built his innings first in company of Aditya Sarvate (18) and later on with Karnewar.
The 24-year-old Wadkar, has faced 96 balls so far and has hit nine fours.
Vidarbha's hopes for a crucial first-innings lead hinges on his blade on the third morning.
Wadkar conjured an important 58-run stand with Sarvate and then has added 19 runs for the unbroken stand for the seventh wicket with Karnewar.
For ROI, five wickets were shared by the spinners, two each by Gowtham (2-33) and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (2-66) while Chahar returened with figures of 1-68. Pacer Ankit Rajpoot (1-43) got a lone wicket, that too later in the day.
Brief Scores: ROI 330 versus Vidarbha 245 for 6 (Sanjay Ramaswamy 65, Akshay Wadkar 50 not out, Ganesh Satish 48; K Gowtham 2-33, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 2-66).
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Jaydev Shah, president of Saurashtra Cricket Association (SCA), said initially they are planning to have the camp with Rajkot-based cricketers at their Khandheri Stadium.
Chahar has taken 11 wickets in nine games with a decent economy rate of 7.40.
Table-toppers MI are on course to make it to the play-offs but the game is crucial for Rajasthan, who are languishing at seventh place and a loss would mean a step closer to elimination.