You don’t expect a No. 7 to bat for almost two sessions on the second day of a five-day match. But Chirag Jani is a different breed. Resuming at 226/6 with him on 53, the right-hander batted for 224 minutes, stitched a 157-run stand for the seventh wicket with Prerak Mankad and brought up his second ton of the season.
The duo took Saurashtra to 419; a total that looked impossible when the visiting side was tottering at 140/5 on Day One. In two days, Jani held his ground for 411 minutes to finish on 121 off 297 balls (12x4).
Andhra suffered a setback in its bowling department as Yarra Prithviraj, who had suffered a mild hamstring pull on Thursday, did not take the field as precaution. The left-arm pacer had claimed three crucial wickets and bowled well in partnership with his colleagues C. Stephen, K.V. Sasikanth and Mohammad Rafi. His absence broke the rhythm of the pace department.
Jani, along with Mankad who scored 80 off 177 balls (8x4), set a tent in the middle. They weren’t going for shots. The ‘block, leave and respect the bowler’ approach started tiring out the Andhra bowlers. It looked like an extended net session for the Saurashtra batters. In the process, four new bowlers had a chance to roll an arm.
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Top-order batsman Ricky Bhui tested them with his leg-break, B. Sumanth tried his best to stick to line-and-length, Jyothi Sai Krishna bowled one over and K. Karan Shinde’s spin fetched him a surprise wicket in the end; that of Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, out lbw for 29 off 49 (4x2).
Closer to Tea, Sasikanth cleaned up Jani. Stephen ran through Mankad soon after. But the damage had been done.
Coming into bat in the late afternoon heat, Andhra opener D.B. Prashanth Kumar (1) could not handle Jaydev Unadkat’s pace and movement and succumbed in eight balls.
C.R. Gnaneshwar 22* off 61 (3x4) and Sai Krishna 17 off 63 (3x4) held their nerve for the next few overs to finish at 40/2. Out of the 22 overs in the Andhra innings, 10 were maidens.
Unadkat struck for the second time in the last ball of the day as Sai Krishna edged one to Avi Barot behind the stumps.
Brief scores: Saurashtra 419 (C Jani 121, P Mankad 80, S Jackson 50; Sasikanth 3/149, C. Stephen 2/72); Andhra 40/2 (Gnaneshwar 22*; J Unadkat 2/20) at stumps on Day 2