Ranji Trophy 2019-20: Pujara, Jackson too hot for Karnataka

Cheteshwar Pujara notched up his 50th first-class ton, while Sheldon Jackson remained unbeaten on 99 on day one of the Ranji match between Saurashtra and Karnataka.

Cheteshwar Pujara notched up his 50th first-class hundred in Rajkot on Saturday.   -  FILE PHOTO/ SUDHAKARA JAIN

 

Cheteshwar Pujara (162 batting, 238b, 17x4, 1x6) and Sheldon Jackson (batting 99, 191b, 4x4, 2x6) held firm to push Saurashtra to 296 for two on the first day of its Ranji Trophy match against Karnataka at the Madhavrao Scindia Cricket Ground here on Saturday.

Pujara and Sheldon got together at 33 for two, and proceeded to bat for nearly 70 overs to completely blunt the Karnataka attack. Pujara recorded his 50th first-class century. Jackson proved to be an able foil for Pujara. The duo were comfortable at the crease; the ball rarely beat their bats.

Pujara’s footwork was exceptional, skipping down the track to meet the spinners on the full. The converted full tosses were neatly whipped through mid-wicket or driven through cover. If he was unable to get to the pitch of the ball, Pujara put his pad in the way.

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Jackson, who like Pujara notched up his first hundred of the Ranji Trophy this season, was a picture of composure. He stayed inside the crease, and covered the line well. Jackson was constantly on the lookout for singles, finding the gaps and rotating the strike. He received a life on 98, when wicketkeeper B.R. Sharath dropped a regulation catch off fast bowler Prateek Jain.

Overall, Saurashtra’s task was made easy by indisciplined bowling and defensive field placements from Karnataka. The spinners — J. Suchith, debutant Pravin Dubey, Pawan Deshpande and Shreyas Gopal — were ineffective, straying in length too often. They were unable to build any sort of pressure, as a loose ball was invariably just around the corner.

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Shreyas, filling in as captain for the unavailable Karun Nair, missed a trick by taking a negative approach. For a majority of the day, Shreyas stationed four fielders on the fence, and employed a slip as the lone catching man. This robbed the bowlers of all attacking venom.

The visitor chose to rest A. Mithun, and leave out speedster V. Koushik to accommodate an extra spinner. K.V. Siddharth and Deshpande returned from injury to strengthen a shaky middle-order.

Brief scores: Saurashtra 296/2 (C Pujara 162*, S Jackson 99*; J Suchith 2/85)

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