An exhibition of raw pace and accurate bowling followed by a partnership involving belligerent and sensible batting helped Rest of India dominate the opening day’s proceedings of the Irani Cup tie against Saurashtra.
The trio of Mukesh Kumar, Kuldeep Sen and Umran Malik exposed the frailties of Saurashtra batters while facing genuine pace bowling to bundle the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy champion out for a paltry 98, the fifth lowest total in the Irani Cup, in the first session at the Saurashtra Cricket Association stadium.
Captain Hanuma Vihari (62*, 145b, 9×4, 1×6) and run-machine Sarfaraz Khan (125*, 126b, 19×4, 2×6) then bailed RoI out of trouble from a precarious 18 for three. The duo’s unbroken 187-run association – with Sarfaraz literally toying with the bowlers en route a 92-ball hundred – put RoI in charge, ending the day, with a lead of 107.
Seven Saurashtra batters being caught behind wickets underlined their inability to handle the pace of the RoI trio, all of whom bowled in the perfect channel.
Mukesh and Sen struck up front, reducing Saurashtra to five for four in the first half hour. While Mukesh struck off successive balls in the third over, Sen saw the back of mainstay Cheteshwar Pujara, whose audacious slash saw Vihari pouching the thick edge off second attempt.
Umran then showcased his raw pace, first snaring through Arpit Vasavada’s defence and then striking into Jaydev Unadkat’s off-stump with a peach of a yorker.
Post lunch, Unadkat and Chetan Sakariya saw off the RoI top three in no time. In came Sarfaraz and started with a flurry of boundaries to take off the pressure.
Sarfaraz was at his dominant best as he displayed all the strokes in his array. Thanks to his 360-degree batting, Sarfaraz raced to his 10th First Class hundred. With Vihari, given a reprieve in the dying minutes, using his feet against the spinners, RoI gained ascendancy.
Saurashtra – 1st innings: Harvik Desai c Vihari b Mukesh 0, Snell Patel c Bharat b Mukesh 4, Chirag Jani c Abhimanyu b Mukesh 0, Cheteshwar Pujara c Vihari b Sen 1, Sheldon Jackson c Sarfaraz b Mukesh 2, Arpit Vasavada b Umran 22, Prerak Mankad c Bharat b Sen 9, Jaydev Unadkat b Umran 12, Dharmendra Jadeja c Abhimanyu b Umran 28, Parth Bhut c Bharat b Sen 1, Chetan Sakariya (not out) 13.
Extras (b-4, lb-1, w-1) 6
Total (All out, 24.5 overs) 98
Fall of wickets: 1-4, 2-4, 3-5, 4-5, 5-30, 6-34, 7-52, 8-60, 9-65.
Rest of India bowling: Mukesh 10-4-23-4, Sen 7-1-41-3, Umran 5.5-1-25-3, Jayant 2-1-4-0.
Rest of India – 1st innings: Abhimanyu Easwaran c Vasavada 0, Mayank Agarwal c sub (Vishvaraj) b Sakariya 11, Yash Dhull c Desai b Unadkat 5, Hanuma Vihari (batting) 62, Sarfaraz Khan (batting) 125.
Extras (b-1, w-1) 2
Total (for 3 wkts., 49 overs) 205
Fall of wickets: 1-0, 2-16, 3-18.
Saurashtra bowling: Unadkat 10-0-47-2, Sakariya 11-1-50-1, Jani 8-1-31-0, Mankad 6-1-20-0, Bhut 9-1-26-0, Dharmendra 5-0-30-0.
Toss: Rest of India.