|Despondent Laxmi Ratan Shukla and Ashok Dinda, on Sunday. A Telegraph picture
Indore: Sangram Atitkar has been in the back row of Maharashtra’s batting line-up this season as Harshad Khaidwale, Kedar Jadhav and the upcoming Vijay Zol have hogged all the limelight.
He came in at the uneasy position of No.7, but walked out with the highest score of the innings. Atitkar’s 168 spoke of sheer dominance and strokeplay.
He played some outrageous strokes and none of the Bengal bowlers managed to bother him much.
He had an interesting duel with Ashok Dinda, when the Bengal pacer placed three fielders for the hook shot. Yet, Atitkar hooked one that bisected all of Dinda’s men.
Atitkar, however, felt that Dinda, who took three for 114, was the most impressive of the Bengal bowlers. “I know he placed those fielders for me… But I was batting on 150-plus then, so I was very confident of my shot-making…
“That is why I was able to find the boundary despite those fielders. I felt that Dinda was the toughest Bengal bowler I faced today. He moved it both ways and some of his deliveries were really good,” Atitkar said.
Atitkar’s 168 came off 228 balls and he hit 29 boundaries. Asked if he was deliberately aggressive, Atitkar said: “I had to take the initiative because I was mostly batting with the tail-enders. But I played according to the situation. It wasn’t pre-meditated.”
Atitkar, who used to bat one down earlier, doesn’t mind batting in the lower middle order, but insisted that he would always prefer the No. 3 slot. “We have a strong team and so, the batting order had to be adjusted accordingly… I don’t mind that, but obviously it’s always better to bat at No.3 as it gives you ample time to play a long innings.
“Down the order, it’s a little difficult as you have to bat mostly with tail-enders.”
The 25-year-old revealed that they didn’t think that they would be taking such a big first innings lead. “We lost a wicket early in the morning and kept small goals for ourselves… Wanted at least a 150-run lead… But then, the tail-enders played excellently.