Saurashtra made 274 for five on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy semifinal against Punjab at the Saurashtra Cricket Stadium in Rajkot on Wednesday.
Skipper Jaydev Shah gave his team the momentum with some hefty blows and Sheldon Jackson (70 batting, 10x4, 1x6) the stability with tight defence and pleasing stroke-play after Punjab struck twice with the new ball and put the home team under pressure.
Sitanshu Kotak showed plenty of grit to make a half-century, but it was Jaydev and Jackson’s splendid work that kept a superior Punjab attack at bay. The visitors, short on the over-rate, could not make up despite play being extended by half-an-hour.
Jaydev, played fearlessly, and as is his wont the left-hander was ready for a tussle with the bowlers. But, in the absence of Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja, he also showed a new facet of his batting — a steady approach at the start. When he had the opportunity to score his fifth century in eleven seasons in his 76th match for Saurashtra, he fell to left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma, who broke into a Punjabi-style jig. Jaydev’s knock contained 16 boundaries and a six.
Saurashtra won the toss and sent out its most experienced batsman Kotak and Sagar Jogiyani to face Punjab’s successful seamers Sandeep Sharma, declared fit to play after suffering from a bout of flu, and Siddarth Kaul.
The two had taken 79 wickets leading up to this match and Siddarth added one more to his tally of 38 quickly when he scalped Jogiyani with a delivery that hit the pads before knocking back the off-stump. Hardly the replacement to fit into Pujara’s big shoes at No. 3, Rahul Dave survived for 74 minutes before falling to Siddarth, caught behind by Uday Kaul.
Having lost two wickets by the 19th over, the home team looked up to Kotak and Jaydev to steady the ship. Jaydev took time to settle down before executing a front-foot cover drive, square drive and a couple of cut shots off Siddarth. He then stepped out to hit Harbhajan Singh for a six.
The Saurashtra skipper, however, was uncomfortable against leg-spinner Sarabjit Ladda and survived as many as three appeals in one over. Kotak and Jaydev added 92 runs for the third-wicket before Kotak, after facing 128 balls, steered Harbhajan into the hands of Mandeep Singh at slip.
Jaydev could not resist the temptation to pull left-arm spinner Bipul Sharma and landed up holing out to Sandeep Sharma in the deep.
The scores: Saurashtra — 1st innings: S. Kotak c Mandeep b Harbhajan 54, S. Jogiyani b Siddarth Kaul 5, R. Dave c Uday Kaul b Siddarth Kaul 16, Jaydev Shah c Sandeep b Bipul 87, S. Jackson (batting) 70, A. Vasavada lbw b Taruwar Kohli 8 , K. Makwana (batting) 13; Extras (b-0, lb-5, nb-6): 21; Total (for five wkts. in 87 overs): 274.
Fall of wickets: 1-6, 2-58, 3-150, 4-194, 5-229.
Punjab bowling: Sandeep 15-4-38-0, Siddarth Kaul 19-4-64-2, Amitoze Singh 4-0-20-0, Harbhajan 15-1-59-1, Ladda 19-5-53-0, Bipul 9-4-10-1, Taruwar Kohli 6-0-15-1.
Keywords: Ranji Trophy