Karnataka sets off in earnest with openers Uthappa and Rahul seeing it to stumps

Aarpit Vasavada showed unshakable temperament to make a career-best 152 not out (469m, 357b, 23x4) on Monday as Saurashtra piled on 469 runs in its Ranji Trophy quarterfinal against Karnataka at the University ground here on Monday.

Karnataka showed plenty of spirit in reply; a flurry of shots from Robin Uthappa in the last hour of the second day’s play saw the visitors go to stumps at 45 for no loss.

But, with Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah cheerfully suggesting at the end of the day’s play that the pitch has revealed its spiteful side on many occasions, implying that his spin troika — left-armer Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, offie Kamlesh Makwana and leg-spinner Vishal Joshi — may be a handful as the wicket declines from the third day, Karnataka will be very wary indeed.

The hosts will regret squandering the opportunity to have Karnataka under pressure right at the outset: off the very first ball of the innings, left-arm seamer Jaydev Unadkat rushed opener K.L. Rahul into a false shot, and Jadeja grassed what should have been a fairly straightforward catch in front of square-leg.

The Saurashtra fielders also missed out on a couple of run out chances.

Uthappa has batted confidently so far sending the ball to the fence with a square drive, a straight drive and a two slog-sweeps. Rahul, however, has been more circumspect at the other end, perhaps chastened by his reprieve.

The star of the day was Vasavada. He has been in the squad for five years, but has played only six matches coming into this match.

On Monday, the 24-year-old southpaw blocked a high percentage of the deliveries, punished the bad ones and placed faith in the lower order — Chirag Dani and Makwana came up with useful contributions — in taking his side to a total that will give his side’s bowlers something to work with.

“Patience is my virtue, and that’s the way I play. My coaches have worked hard for me, and the team coach Debu Mitra has said that I should not give my wicket easily,” said Vasavada. “That’s how I prepare myself: saying that I need to put some value for my wicket.”

“There are a few foot marks…and it’s turning, but (the wicket) is not unplayable. You can score runs if you have some patience.”

“But if the bowlers can bowl at the right spots, it will do a bit. In that way it’s a sporting wicket.”

Karnataka will have to demonstrate as much application as Vasavada and many of his teammates to surpass the hosts’ first-innings total, and that may eventually determine the qualifier for the semifinal from this match.

The scores:

Saurashtra — 1st innings: Shitanshu Kotak c Rahul b Sharath 46, Sagar Jogiyani b Mithun 9, Cheteshwar Pujara c Rahul b Gowtham 37, Jaydev Shah c Rahul b Mithun 23, Sheldon Jackson c Rahul b Appanna 83, Aarpit Vasavada (not out) 152, Chirag Jani c Pandey b Gowtham 36, Kamlesh Makwana lbw b Verma 32, Vishal Joshi c Pandey b Mithun 9, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja lbw b Gowtham 9, Jaydev Unadkat c Gautam b Sharath 8, Extras (b-7, lb-4, nb-5, w-9) 25; Total (in 165. 3 overs) 469.

Fall of wkts: 1-13, 2-68, 3-113, 4-152, 5-245, 6-316, 7-394, 8-405, 9-449.

Karnataka bowling: Abhimanyu Mithun 25-6-79-3, H.S. Sharath 22.3-8-47-2, K.P. Appanna 38-10-93-1, Stuart Binny 8-0-43-0, K. Gowtham 49-10-127-3, Amit Verma 21-5-63-1, K.L. Rahul 2-0-6-0.

Karnataka — 1st innings: K.L. Rahul (batting) 12, R. Uthappa (batting) 29, Extras (b-4) 4; Total (for no loss in 14 overs) 45.

Saurashtra bowling: Jaydev Unadkat 6-2-10-0, Chirag Jani 3-1-9-0, Vishal Joshi 2-0-11-0; Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 2-0-8-0, Kamlesh Makwana 1-0-3-0.

Keywords: Ranji Trophy

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