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Railways stage strong reply

Pune: Railways staged a strong reply racing to 179 for one at close on a high-scoring second day of the three-day match against the West Indies here Monday. Shreyas Khanolkar scored a brilliant century.

In a surprise move, Railways decided to send Khanolkar and Murali Kartik as their opening pair. The gamble paid unexpected dividends as the duo knocked off 167 runs after West Indies had declared their first innings at 449 for eight.

Khanolkar smashed 102 runs off just 92 deliveries with 20 boundaries before being caught by Darren Powell at covers just before the close of play.

Kartik, who generally comes in at No. 10, also showed his batting prowess and was unbeaten on 72 at stumps while Tejinderpal Singh was on two.

West Indies had earlier recovered from the loss of six quick wickets to post a challenging total. Resuming at their overnight 297 for two, West Indies slumped to 354 for eight before Gareth Breese and Mahendra Nagamootoo came up with a fine partnership for the ninth wicket.

Breese struck 57 while Nagamootoo chipped in with 39 as they added 95 for the unfinished ninth wicket before West Indies declared their innings at the stroke of tea. For Railways, Kulamani Parida finished with four wickets for 107 runs while Harvinder Singh claimed one wicket.

West Indies found the going extremely tough in the morning session when they could add just 50 runs in 27 overs while losing three important wickets.

The two overnight batsmen, Darren Ganga and Marlon Samuels, and Ryan Hinds were sent back to the pavilion when the West Indies had added just 11 runs in the morning.

Samuels edged a Zakir Hussain delivery to wicketkeeper Abhay Sharma after making only four while Ganga was caught by Kartik in the slips off Harvinder. Ganga was out for 71 after batting for 282 minutes during which he faced 226 balls and hit 12 fours.

Kartik came up with another catch in the slips to dismiss Ryan Hinds who scored 19. Hinds tried to cut J. P. Yadav off the backfoot but could only produce an edge which was well taken by Kartik. Hinds faced 38 balls and hit three boundaries during his 68 minute stay at the crease.

West Indies, who took lunch at 347 for five, lost three more wickets immediately after the break, all three being dismissed by Parida. But Railways’ joy was short lived as Nagamootoo and Breese defied the attack for close to two hours to add another 95 runs.

While Breese remained unbeaten on a 97-ball 57 which included ten fours, Nagamootoo struck a well made 39 not out with four fours and a six.

Wicketkeeper-captain Ridley Jacobs promptly declared the innings at tea to give his bowlers some valuable practice before the third and final Test in Calcutta.

The Railways reply began on a belligerent note with both Khanolkar and Kartik tearing the West Indian bowling apart. Kartik was lucky to have been dropped thrice in the slips but Khanolkar played a magnificent knock, cutting and driving with precision and finesse.

Khanolkar reached his fifty off just 44 balls with the help of ten fours before bringing up the fastest century of his career against a touring side. He reached the milestone with a cut to the third man boundary against Chris Gayle.

However, just before the close, Khanolkar’s innings was cut short by Ryan Hinds. The batsman’s uppish drive went straight to Powell in the covers.

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