Ranji Trophy: Unadkat, Sakariya light up pacer-friendly day

Mayank Agarwal fell cheaply on his return to the Karnataka team, while Jaydev Unadkat, the Saurashtra captain, made the most of pacer-friendly conditions to take a four-for.

Jaydev Unadkat led the way with the ball for Saurashtra with figures of four for 50. (file photo)   -  VIVEK BENDRE

There were lots of talks and speculations as to how India internationals Cheteshwar Pujara and Mayank Agarwal would fare in the Ranji Trophy semifinal for their respective states, Saurashtra and Karnataka, that started at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Thursday.

Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Unadkat’s reading of the wicket helped him hold on to his plans as the left-arm pacer rattled the Karnataka top-order claiming four wickets; three in the first 11 overs. 

The host staged a recovery through skipper Manish Pandey (62; 4x4, 3x6), Shreyas Gopal (87; 9x4, 1x6) and Sharath Srinivas (74 not out; 11x4) to finish at 264 for nine at stumps on day one.

As it happened

Along with youngster Chetan Sakariya, also a left-arm pacer, Unadkat created an off-stump halo around the Karnataka batters in the first session. 

R. Samarth (0) and Krishnamurthy Siddharth (12; 3x4) were trapped in front of the stumps, while Agarwal (2) survived for 49 minutes and 30 balls before edging an Unadkat venom to Snell Patel behind the stumps. 

Samarth departed on the fourth ball of the first over. He failed to react to the late movement of the cherry that kissed his pads. Siddharth found the boundary three times but he too fell prey to the late inward movement in the seventh over. 

Sakariya held Karnataka by the neck when he dismissed Karun Nair (9). Nair, who remained unbeaten on 61 in the quarterfinal against Rajasthan, looked impatient as he tried to have a go at the pacer playing away from the body. The edge gifted Patel his second catch of the day.

READ: Why Unadkat can cause selection headache

With the team struggling at 30 for four, Pandey and his deputy, Gopal, set out to steady the innings. The duo turned the tide for Karnataka with a 106-run stand for the fifth wicket.

Pandey's purple patch continued as he smashed his third fifty of the season. By the time Unadkat cleaned him up in the 39th over, the 109-minute onslaught, only off 67 balls, had taken Karnataka to a respectable position.

Gopal continued the repair work with Srinivas, who replaced B. R. Sharath in the crucial fixture. 

Saurashtra had a chance to end the proceedings early but it let go off dollies on the field. Gopal was dropped on 33 by Prerak Mankad off Kamlesh Makvana’s off-spin. 

In the end, Makvana got one to sneak through the gate to dismiss Gopal but the man had piled up the required runs. Saurashtra dropped two more catches towards the end of the day. Krishnappa Gowtham was dropped on nought by Unadkat off Makvana. R. Vinay Kumar, the quarterfinal hero, was dropped on 1 by Makvana. 

These misses didn’t affect the balance of the innings as all three perished in the next 10 overs.

“After losing the toss, we were a bit uncertain on what to do. Good that we had the advantage of the initial hour and got some wickets so that we could capitalise in the end. We created chances between lunch and tea. We decided not to concede runs. They came out of 50/4 playing some shots. I would like to credit my bowlers for creating that patch where we controlled them. If we could bat through the third day...that will be our plan.”

                                                                                - Saurashtra captain Jaydev Unadkat

"There was no pressure at all to bat in that situation. The atmosphere in the dressing room is really nice. The seniors guide you and tell you what to do. There is a given game plan which we follow. My plan was to build partnerships of small targets. I wanted to support Shreyas Gopal. When Shreyas and I were batting, we looked at 300. The wicket got better to bat post lunch. We decided not to throw away our wickets.”

                                                                       - Karnataka wicketkeeper Sharath Srinivas

Brief scores: Karnataka 264-9 (S Gopal 87, M Pandey 62, S Srinivas 74 not out; J Unadkat 4/50; K Makvana 3/73)
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