Jaydev Unadkat’s milestone 100th First Class match did not get off to a bright start as Saurashtra toiled for wickets in its Ranji Trophy sixth-round game against Andhra Pradesh at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Tuesday.
However, skipper Unadkat and Chetan Sakariya’s breakthroughs in the last hour helped the host claw its way back with the latter’s dismissal of Ricky Bhui (80, 155b, 8×4, 1×6) tilting the scales. Andhra was at 256 for five at Stumps.
Saurashtra’s slow start will not go down to the lack of effort from Unadkat and his bowlers. Andhra openers C.R. Gnaneshwar and Abhishek Reddy negotiated the first hour with appreciable defence after their captain Hanuma Vihari opted to bat first on a hard surface.
Unadkat’s first spell (5-2-7-0) was a display of unmistakable seam bowling as Gnaneshwar countered the left-arm pacer by leaving deliveries on length to wicketkeeper Harvik Desai. At the other end, Sakariya opted to pitch shorter to test the batters. Abhishek, the more proactive of the two, opened the scoring in the fourth over with a backfoot square-cut four – utilising the true bounce off the surface. Runs did not break out smoothly on a chilly morning devoid of swing as the bowlers continued with probing lines.
However, the pair failed to cap a perfect session as left-arm spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja struck in successive overs on the stroke of Lunch. A quicker delivery on length prompted a miscued flick from Abhishek to Samarth Vyas at forward short-leg. Gnaneshwar’s vigil ended as another delivery skid off the strip to trap him for 34.
The traditional synchronised clapping by the Saurashtra fielders dwindled in the second session as Ricky Bhui took off with five fours. No.3 Vihari (38) was content with the waiting game, but Jadeja eventually sneaked one past an attempted cut to break a 70-run stand.
Bhui retained his solidity with Ashwin Hebbar after a rejuvenated Unadkat dismissed Karan Shinde (31). Bhui’s untimely wicket, however, blew Andhra’s otherwise fruitful day.