Karnataka face stiff task

Vasavadas unbeaten ton helps Saurashtra post huge 469 all out

Karnataka face stiff task

Saurashtra rode on a resilient century from Aarpit Vasavada to grab some momentum in their Ranji Trophy quarterfinal match against Karnataka at the University of Saurashtra ground on Monday.

The left-hander showed no signs of vacating the crease as he stood still and played just one forceful shot during his near-eight hour stay that saw the hosts, resuming from overnight 272 for five, reaching a formidable 469 all out in 165.3 overs. Karnataka, in response, reached 45 for no loss in 14 overs with Robin Uthappa batting on 29 and KL Rahul unbeaten on 12 at stumps, trailing by 424 runs.

Karnataka, who got themselves into a tough position by once again letting the tail-enders and one steady batsman to work them around, would have added to their woes right at the beginning of their innings but fortune was in their favour.

Taking strike against Jaydev Unadkat, who ran in from the Far end to bowl the first ball of Karnataka’s innings, Rahul flicked the ball off his hips only to realise that he had hit it to Dharmendrasingh Jadeja at square leg. Jadeja was caught napping as the left-arm spinner, who is expected to do wonders for Saurashtra on this pitch, spilled an easy chance much to the dismay of his team-mates.

From there on, Rahul and Uthappa looked composed even though there were a few heart-stopping moments while attempting some quick runs. The number of chances that had come Saurashtra’s way in the 63 minutes of play were much more than what Vasavada (152 n.o., 469m, 357b, 23x4) had offered the visitors.

Vasavada wasn’t exactly a pretty picture at the crease, but the Saurashtra camp did not mind that one bit as he gathered runs clinically and tormented Karnataka’s bowlers to no end while scoring his second first-class century. The only consolation for for J Arun Kumar’s wards, was the cool weather here.

Vasavada, who had scored a similar gritty unbeaten century against Mumbai a fortnight ago, was again in his element. Smothering spinners and pacers alike, he hardly made a mistake during the length of his innings, and to Karnataka’s surprise and anguish, the tail-enders who he batted along with too proved hard to dismiss.

“My coaches have worked very hard for me. My coach (Debu Mitra) said ‘don’t give your wicket that easily’ and that’s how I prepare myself… that I need to keep some value for my wicket. It’s not easy for the bowlers to get my wicket on any surface,” said an elated Vasavada.

Vasavada, who had led Saurashtra’s under-25 team for three games before being called up for the senior team, snuck singles when the fielders were at the edge of the circle and when they were brought in closer by skipper Stuart Binny, he placed the ball into the gaps to fetch runs. The lone sign of aggression came when the Karnataka bowlers pitched the ball short -- they did it a number of times -- rocking back to find a boundary.

In fact, the only time Vasavada did anything remotely risky was when he, on 96, danced down the track to KP Appanna and drove the ball past mid-off for a four to complete his ton.  Pacer Abhimanyu Mithun (3/79) and offie K Gowtham (3-127) bowled tight and returned with three wickets apiece but on a wicket as placid and with someone like Vasavada at the other end, they couldn’t have expected better.

Score board

SAURASHTRA (I Innings, O/n 272/5): Sitanshu Kotak c Rahul b Sharath 46 (194m, 132b, 5x4), Sagar Jogiyani b Mithun 9 (41m, 27b, 2x4), Cheteshwar Pujara c Rahul b Gowtham 37 (60m, 49b, 7x4), Jaydev Shah c Rahul b Mithun 23 (46m, 46b, 2x4), Sheldon Jackson c Rahul b Appanna 83 (161m, 128b, 12x4, 1x6), Aarpit Vasavada (not out) 152 (469m, 357b, 23x4), Chirag Jani c Pandey b Gowtham 36 (153m, 113b, 5x4), Kamlesh Makwana lbw Amit 32 (112m, 87b, 5x4), Vishal Joshi c Pandey b Mithun 9 (9m, 7b, 2x4), Dharmendrasinh Jadeja lbw Gowtham 9 (48m, 29b, 1x4), Jaydev Unadkat c Gautam b Sharath 8 (25m, 23b, 1x4). Extras (B-7, LB-4, W-9, NB-5) 25. Total (all out, 165.3 overs) 469.

Fall of wickets: 1-13 (Jogiyani), 2-68 (Pujara), 3-113 (Jaydev), 4-152 (Kotak), 5-245 (Jackson), 6-316 (Jani), 7-394 (Makwana), 8-405 (Vishal), 9-449 (Jadeja).
Bowling: Abhimanyu Mithun 25-6-79-3 (w-2), H S Sharath 22.3-8-47-2 (w-5), K P Appanna 38-10-93-1 (w-1), Stuart Binny 8-0-43-0 (nb-2), K Gowtham 49-10-127-3 (w-1, nb-1), Amit Verma 21-5-63-1 (nb-1), K L Rahul 2-0-6-0 (nb-1).

KARNATAKA (I Innings): KL Rahul (batting) 12 (62m, 42b, 1x4), Robin Uthappa (batting) 29 (62m, 42b, 5x4). Extras (B-4) 4. Total (for no loss, 14 overs) 45.
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.

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