Ranji Trophy: Saurashtra dominates Maharashtra on Day 1

Sheldon Jackson’s century (105) and Cheteshwar Pujara’s unbeaten 79 steered Saurashtra to a comfortable position on the opening day of its Ranji Trophy Group B match against Maharashtra .

Sheldon Jackson of Saurashtra celebrates after scoring a century against Maharashtra on the opening day of Ranji Trophy match.   -  Basheer

Sheldon Jackson’s century (105) and Cheteshwar Pujara’s unbeaten 79 steered Saurashtra to a comfortable position on the opening day of its Ranji Trophy Group B match against Maharashtra at the Dr P.V.G. Raju ACA Sports Complex ground here on Thursday. Keeping the Indian top order batsman company at the close was captain Jaydev Shah on 36, the side seated on a comfortable 285 for three.

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The pitch offered little for the bowlers and not surprisingly, it was a day of toil for the Maharashtra attack. The spinners, with hardly any assistance from the track, came in for some stick, especially at the hands of Pujara and Jackson.

Maharashtra elected to bowl, a move that didn’t exactly pay off. The strip remained firm and true with the vital first hour passing off without incident. Openers Avi Barot and Sagar Jogyani both perished through horizontal shots, picked up by first slip Naushad Shaikh, off Rahul Tripathi and Mohsin Sayyad respectively.

Cheteshwar Pujara dropped anchor, halting Maharashtra’s ambition in its tracks. Two-down Jackson launched into assault mode soon enough, off successive balls hoisting Akshay Darekar over the long-on boundary shortly before lunch.

Enjoying his seasoned partner’s company, Jackson focused on stroke making. The wiry frame displayed no brute power in deploying those strikes.

At the other end, Pujara’s authority in approach was unmistakable, even if he bided his time. His fifty came up off 134 balls and had half a dozen hits to the fence. He indulged in a six over long on and then reverted to a run-a-ball routine with Jackson, the latter inching towards three figures.

An on-driven single brought the Bhavnagar-born batsman his century. After a 190-minute stay, he was caught by mid-on Tripathi off Darekar, his third-wicket partnership with Pujara producing 164 runs.

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