Vidarbha stage fightback

Vidarbha's Akshay Karnewar plays a shot during their match against Saurashtra in Nagpur on Monday. PTI

Nagpur: A bungling Saurashtra undid all the good work of the opening day to hand over the advantage to defending champions Vidarbha.

The hosts, who were left on shaky ground at 200/7 at close on Sunday, not only added over 100 runs for the remaining wickets on Monday but reduced Saurashtra to 157 for five to enhance their chances of retaining the title here at the VCA’s Jamtha Stadium. After posting 312 all out in 120.2 overs, Vidarbha spinners ran rings around Saurashtra batting unit whose task became that much more difficult after the cheap dismissal of Cheteshwar Pujara. The tourists still trail Vidarbha by 154 runs and their hopes of running Vidarbha’s total close or even take lead, rest largely on a consistent Snell Patel (87 n.o., 160b, 14x4) who was lucky to survive an appeal for a glove-pad catch at short leg off Akshay Wakhare when on 75.   

The Jaydev Unadkat-led Saurashtra attack had displayed great discipline and intensity to have the Vidarbha batsmen on the rack after the hosts had elected to bat on a good batting surface on the opening day. The same attack, however, lacked those qualities even as overnight batsmen Akshay Karnewar (73, 160b, 8x4, 2x6) and Akshay Wakhare (34) showed the required application that some of their top-order batsmen failed to. The two came out with a positive mindset, and while they were uninhibited in their approach, they weren’t reckless either. Allying aggression judiciously with caution, the left-right pair raised an invaluable 78 runs for the eighth wicket to provide more than a semblance of respect to hosts’ total. Karnewar added a further 38 runs with the remaining tail to take the total past 300.

In reply, Saurashtra lost a wicket early when Akshay Sarwate (3/55) came on to bowl the third over of the innings. Skipper Faiz Fazal’s move to bring the left-arm spinner was as surprising as rewarding with Harvik Desai playing and missing and being hit on the back leg for an easy lbw decision for the umpire. Snell and Vishvaraj Jadeja (18) steadied the ship with a 61-run stand before Sarwate struck again on return to attack. In walked Pujara and he was going to be the key to Saurashtra’s fortunes. The right-hander, however, managed no more than one off 11 balls as he guided one away-spinning delivery from Sarwate to Wasim Jaffer at slip at the stroke of which tea was taken.

After Sarwate, it was the turn of off-spinner Wakhare who saw the back of Arpit Vasavada and Sheldon Jackson who fell in the space of 16 runs. Vidarbha were unlucky not to have Snell back in the hut but on a pitch where the ball is turning, jumping and keeping low now and then, it’s going to be hard work for Saurashtra. 

SCORE BOARD

VIDARBHA (I Innings; O/n: 200/7): Faiz Fazal run out 16 (35b, 2x4), R Sanjay c Vasavada b Unadkat 2 (18b), Wasim Jaffer c Snell b Unadkat 23 (67b, 1x4, 1x6), Mohit Kale c Desai b Makvana 35 (126b, 4x4), Ganesh Satish c Snell b Mankad 32 (86b, 1x4, 1x6), Akshay Wadkar c Mankad b Sakariya 45 (115b, 5x4), Aditya Sarwate c Desai b D Jadeja 0 (11b), Akshay Karnewar (not out) 73 (160b, 8x4, 2x6), Akshay Wakhare c Sakariya 34 (78b, 3x4), Umesh Yadav c Snell b Unadkat 13 (18b, 3x4), Rajneesh Gurbani b Makwana 6 (8b, 1x4). Extras (B-9, LB-23, W-1) 33. Total (all out, 120.2 overs) 312.

Fall of wickets: 1-21 (Sanjay), 2-29 (Fazal), 3-60 (Jaffer), 4-106 (Kale), 5-134 (Ganesh), 6-139 (Sarwate), 7-196 (Wadkar), 8-274 (Wakhare), 9-299 (Umesh).

Bowling: Jaydev Unadkat 24-7-54-3 (w-1), Chetan Sakariya 21-9-44-2, Prerak Mankad 23-7-41-1, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 28-6-83-1, Kamlesh Makvana 24.2-1-58-2.

SAURASHTRA (I Innings): Harvik Desai lbw Sarwate 10 (9b, 2x4), Snell Patel (batting) 87 (160b, 14x4), Vishvaraj Jadeja lbw Sarwate 18 (72b, 1x4), Cheteshwar Pujara c Jaffer b Sarwate 1 (11b), Arpit Vasavada c Jaffer b Wakhare 13 (40b, 1x4), Sheldon Jackson c Wadkar b Wakhare 9 (23b, 1x4), Prerak Mankad (batting) 16 (39b, 2x4). Extras (B-4) 4. Total (for 5 wkts, 59 overs) 158.

Fall of wickets: 1-18 (Desai), 2-79 (V Jadeja), 3-81 (Pujara), 4-115 (Vasavada), 5-131 (Jackson).

Bowling: Rajneesh Gurbani 5-2-11-0, Umesh Yadav 13-5-17-0, Aditya Sarwate 20-6-55-3, Akshay Karnewar 9-3-29-0, Akshay Wakhare 12-0-42-2.

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