Jagadeesh: Picking the length early was key

The batsman talks through his smart, responsible knock that kept Kerala alive for much of its contest against Hyderabad.

Had it not been for V. A. Jagadeesh’s gritty, well-paced knock of 62, it may not have taken so many overs for the contest to end in Hyderabad’s favour. (File Picture)   -  V. Ganesan

A total of 96.4 overs were bowled in the Vijay Hazare Trophy Group ‘B’ contest here between Kerala and Hyderabad. Had it not been for V. A. Jagadeesh’s gritty, well-paced knock of 62, it may not have taken so many overs for the contest to end in Hyderabad’s favour.

In the 17th over, the team was struggling at 39 for 3; seamer Ravi Kiran had dismissed opener K. B. Arun Karthick and No. 3 Sanju Samson cheaply, and Mehdi Hasan, the left-arm spinner who accounted for a total of eight wickets in his last two outings, snuck a full delivery through the defences of Jalaj Saxena.

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The situation demanded pragmatism, but run-rate was a worry as well. Walking in to bat at this point, Jagadeesh had only one intention in mind – avoiding a capitulation. “We needed to build partnerships, and we couldn’t afford to lose any more wickets at that point,” he told Sportstar after his team’s loss.

He couldn’t manoeuvre the bowling with too much freedom immediately, however. Combining with Sachin Baby, he decided to play with care. “Sachin and I decided to pick the length early. On this wicket, we realised that was key. Picking the length early, we could decisively go forward or back [to play the ball],” he said.

Runs trickled from the blades of the two batsmen. Forty-seven runs were added in 13.1 overs before Baby was undone by off-spinner Saaketh. It was an outside edge snaffled by Tanmay Agarwal positioned near the wicket. “The ball was turning. They [the Kerala spinners] were bowling wicket-to-wicket deliveries, and there were no loose deliveries [to capitalise on]. The balls were mostly pitched on the good length – it was neither too full nor too short most of the times,” Jagadeesh revealed.

He added, “I was looking to mostly turn the ball to square leg or fine leg, depending on whichever space was vacant in the field.”

Despite the slow scoring rate, he did much of the same with his new partner Salman Nizar (25, 47b, 3X4). Jagadeesh said, “I had to stay till the end and we could accelerate later on. I understood that if a wicket fell, the new batsman would find it difficult to get set. We could score 60-70 runs in the last 10 overs to get close to 200.”

As was the plan, urgency was developed after Nizar got out in the 44th over. The spinners had finished their quota of 10 overs, and fast bowlers could be feasted upon. “We were looking to score runs off every delivery,” Jagadeesh said.

Even yorkers dug out by batsmen would result in singles taken. Singles were converted into twos and twos into threes. And when it was in the slot to be hit, it was. C.V. Milind who strayed in his line and length, bowling a few full tosses, and he was pounced upon. Slogs were aplenty, as were agricultural hoicks. A dropped catch by B. Sandeep in the outfield didn’t help.

Vishnu Vinod (34, 22b, 2X4, 2X6) accelerated well, especially in the 49th over - Milind was struck for a six and a four. In attempting one big shot too many, Jagadeesh departed.

It was 174 for six. The job wasn’t enough for a victory, but it was a responsible, anchoring knock in the circumstances, his second half-century in a row. The eventual total of 189 didn’t prove enough but certainly tested the opposition.

“If half-chances had gone our way [during the middle overs in Hyderabad’s chase], we could have had a chance,” Jagadeesh signed off.