Spinner Karn Sharma (six for 76) bowled Jammu and Kashmir out for 259 and spun the game in Railways' favour on day one of a Group C encounter in the the third round of the Ranji Trophy on Thursday.
Coming on the back of a couple of poor outings in the tournament, Sharma struck with his first ball in the 22nd over, drawing Suryansh Raina’s outside edge to the cordon and ending his breezy 88-run opening stand with Qamran Iqbal.
The openers had raced to 55 for no loss in 10 overs, smashing Railways’ pacers Amit Mishra and Yuvraj Singh for boundaries after Jammu and Kashmir elected to bat first on an overcast morning at the IIT Chemplast Cricket Ground in Chennai.
Iqbal set the tone for his 98-ball 83 with an audacious pull over deep square leg off Yuvraj in just the second over. He was particularly severe against pacers, pushing off the backfoot through covers and punishing on the leg side when the line was too straight. However, just as he cleared left-arm spinner Akash Pandey over long on for a six after lunch, he responded by knocking Iqbal's stumps over.
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A bigger redemption was in the offing for Sharma, who let out a loud roar after scalping Abdul Samad, tricking him with extra bounce as the hard-hitting batter chipped a dolly to wide gully. Samad had earlier disdainfully pasted the India international for three sixes and two fours.
A procession of wickets followed as the middle-order caved against Sharma’s leg spin, handing the 34-year-old his 11th five-wicket haul in First Class cricket. The Jammu and Kashmir tail wagged, however, smothering the turn with an effective ploy of defending with a pronounced forward press.
Henan Nazir (34, 97b, 1x4, 0x6) and Auqib Nabi (44, 130b, 4x4 1x6) paired for a 64-run stand for the ninth wicket as Jammu and Kashmir extended its innings deep into the third session. Nazir eventually chopped on attempting to cut on the backfoot off Sharma before pacers Mishra and Yuvraj were finally rewarded with a wicket each as Jammu and Kashmir's finished with a first innings score of 259.
Veteran campaigner Parvez Rasool bowled a probing solitary over for Jammu and Kashmir, as Railways left it to day two to open its account in its first essay.