Ranji Trophy: Khajuria shines for J&K

Shubham Khajuria scored 90 to allow Jammu and Kashmir to post 205 for 6 against Andhra on an evenly contested first day of the Group C fixture in Mumbai.

Opener Shubham Khajuria could afford to smile after scoring a gritty knock of 90 against a disciplined Andhra attack.   -  P. K. Ajith Kumar

The curator kept his word. There was enough in the wicket to make it an interesting battle between bat and ball on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy Group C match featuring Andhra and Jammu & Kashmir (J & K) at the Brabourne Cricket Stadium here on Thursday.

>Scorecard

In this era of Twenty20 and the four-runs-per-over Test matches, J & K’s stumps score of 205 for six may indicate a dull day of cricket, but it wasn’t.

If J & K could not score at a healthier pace, that was because of the discipline showed by the Andhra bowlers. J & K, however, put up a fairly respectable total, thanks to a gritty innings from its opener Shubham Khajuria.

Khajuria was unlucky to miss out on what would have been a memorable hundred; he was dismissed for 90 inside the last hour. But for that 238-ball knock (337 min, 9 x 4, 2 x 6) and his 99-run stand for the fourth wicket with Parvez Rasool, his team would have been in deep trouble. Andhra captain Hanuma Vihari’s decision to bowl first would have been vindicated.

Andhra’s new ball bowlers, D. Siva Kumar and D. P. Vijaykumar, made good use of the grass and the slight dampness on the wicket, putting J & K on the back foot. Siva, who worked up good pace and made the batsmen play with uncertainty, had Adil Reshi caught at mid-off in the second over of the day.

J & K captain Mithun Manhas then sprung a surprise by sending in Aamir Aziz, who usually bats much lower in the order, at one drop. The gamble did not pay off; Aamir was bowled by left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt, who would go on to send down 33 overs in the day.

Bhatt, who played for Baroda till last season, also took the prize wicket of Khajuria. The well-set batsman was surprised by the turn, and was beaten and bowled.

'Disappointing'

The 21-year-old was hoping to make his second Ranji hundred in as many matches in Mumbai.

Two years ago, he was the Man of the Match when J & K stunned Mumbai in one of the biggest upsets in the history of domestic cricket. That match, though, was played at the Wankhede Stadium, a few minutes walk from this ground.

“That game was playing on my mind while I was batting today,” he said. “It was disappointing to get out in the 90s, but the bowler surprised me. I thought all the Andhra bowlers were very tight today, especially Vijaykumar.”

The Andhra skipper could not have agreed more. “They justified my decision to bowl first,” Vihari said. “We would have liked to take one more wicket, but still this has been my best day as captain so far this season.”

Other matches (Group C):

>Chhattisgarh v Haryana , Guwahati

>Goa v Services , Cuttack

>Himachal Pradesh v Tripura , Kalyani

>Hyderabad v Kerala , Bhubaneswar

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