It wasn’t an easy first session for Saurashtra. They were not prepared to handle the swing amid the breeze at the CSR Sharma College Ground on Thursday. What the top order couldn’t, the middle-order did – play out the deliveries and not stretch the bat out to balls on the fourth stump line.
Andhra opted to bowl and kept the visitor on a tight leash for the most part of the day. Keeping the seam-friendly conditions in mind, it didn’t pick off-spinner Shoaib Md Khan for the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal encounter.
Four pacers – C. Stephen, Mohammad Rafi, K.V. Sasikanth and Yarra Prithviraj – bowled in tandem for 79 overs.
Stephen got rid of a shaky Harvik Desai for a nine-ball duck in the third over. It was a classical caught-behind dismissal. Wicketkeeper K.S. Bharat had an eventful day behind the stumps as he had four more offerings. Kishan Parmar (35; 4x6) and Avi Barot (14; 4x3) got out in similar fashion to Yarra Prithviraj, who finished with three wickets.
Sheldon Jackson (50 off 71; 4x9, 6x1) and Vishvaraj Jadeja (73 off 179; 4x10) started the recovery from 67/3.
Right-hander Jackson – with 600+ runs in the season – looked in good touch. He found the gaps and called for quick singles to keep the scoreboard ticking. It was a typical Jackson innings comprising nine boundaries and a six. He raised his bat for a well-made fifty in the 39th over and threw his wicket away in the next; nicking one to B. Sumanth at second slip off Prithviraj.
Jackson added 72 runs for the fourth wicket with Jadeja.
Sasikanth, Andhra’s best bowler this season, finally got a breakthrough in the 42nd over of the day. The odd bounce surprised Arpit Vasavada as he gifted Bharat his fourth catch of the day.
On the other hand, Jadeja’s strong defence frustrated the Andhra bowlers. He was on 53 for the longest time. He found solid support in Chirag Jani (53* off 128; 4x5) and the duo went on to add 81 runs for the sixth wicket, before Sasikanth struck again to unsettle Jadeja; Bharat took his fifth catch of the day.
Brief scores: Saurashtra 226/6 (V Jadeja 73, C Jani 53*, S Jackson 50; Y Prithviraj 3/51, Sasikanth 2/82) at stumps on Day One
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