CRICKET / Rahul’s catching catches the eye
Karnataka’s K.L. Rahul’s impressive catching was the highlight of the first day’s play when Saurashtra, electing to bat, posted 272 for five wickets in their five-day Ranji Trophy quarterfinal.
Rahul held every catch that came his way at the Saurashtra University ground here on Sunday. He first held a sharp offering to send back the ominous looking Cheteshwar Pujara and then followed it up with smart efforts at gully (Jaydev Shah) and slip (Sitanshu Kotak).
He finally showed fine judgment to convert a skier that spiralled down towards him at deep-mid off and end Sheldon Jackson’s (83, 128b, 12x4, 1x6) splendid knock.
Karnataka would have been better placed had wicket-keeper C.M. Gautam managed to hold on to the nick of left-hander Arpit Vasavada when the latter was on 23. Rahul, who sent down two overs of off-spin to break the partnership between Jackson and Vasavada, was the unlucky bowler.
Karnataka completed the quota of 90 overs within six hours of play. It claimed the second new ball midway through the 89th over.
Abhimanyu Mithun and H.S. Sharath, who together bowled 24 overs and picked up three wickets, would be looking forward to bringing a quick closure to the Saurashtra innings.
The first day’s play at a new venue proved that there were no demons in the pitch as was anticipated by the visiting team. The outfield close to the boundary line was damp when play began, but the pitch, under the harsh sunlight had become dry for a prompt start.
The home team’s most experienced player Kotak and Sagar Jogiyani opened the innings. Jogiyani was the first to go, bowled neck and crop by Mithun’s quicker and fuller length delivery. As the right-hander stepped back, the ball found its way through to send the bails flying.
Pujara began with a neat deflection off Mithun to open his account with a boundary. He played some dazzling strokes off Appanna and Stuart Binny, whom he struck for three fours in a single over, before cover-driving off-spinner K. Gowtham for his seventh four.
Pujara had spent an hour in the middle and seemed to be in full control when he fell. Gowtham got a delivery to kick and turn, and Pujara on his forward play directed the ball towards Rahul at backward short-leg.
As usual Kotak held up his end and initially put on 45 for the third wicket with skipper Shah before raising a substantial 139 for the fourth wicket that was dominated by Jackson. One of the bright sparks this season for Saurashtra, Jackson left his ground to challenge the spinners and cut the seamers to make an impressive and chanceless half-century before he played an inside out shot and offered a chance to Rahul. Saurashtra will rely on Vasadava (369 runs in the league) and Chiarg Jani and Kamlesh Makwana to post a competitive first innings total.
The scores: Saurashtra — 1st innings: S. Kotak c Rahul b Sharath 46, S. Jogiyani b Mithun 9, C. Pujara c Rahul b Gowtham 37, J. Shah c Rahul b Mithun 23, S. Jackson c Rahul b Appanna 83, A. Vasavada (batting) 49, C. Jani (batting) 13; Extras (lb-4, nb-5, w-3): 12; Total (for five wkts. in 92 overs): 272.
Fall of wickets: 1-13, 2-68, 3-113, 4-152, 5-245.
Karnataka bowling: Mithun 13-3-47-2, Sharath 11-5-10-1, Appanna 25-6-63-1, Binny 6-0-38-0, Gowtham 25-3-78-1, Verma 10-2-26-0, Rahul 2-0-6-0.