It could have been over today but Saurashtra stuck to its original plan and batted the entire Day 4 to inflict further wounds on Andhra. The Jaydev Unadkat-led side finished at 375/9 with a lead of 658 in the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal at the CSR Sharma College Ground.
The visiting side had chased down 372 against Uttar Pradesh in the 2018-19 quarterfinal. The players are seasoned enough to bat that long. Besides ensuring a semifinal spot by virtue of a gargantuan lead, it also wanted to rest the bowlers as the mercury soared to 35 degrees this morning.
Resuming at 93/2, overnight batsmen Vishvaraj Jadeja 46 off 99 (5×4) and Avi Barot 54 off 119 (7×4) fell early to Mohammad Rafi. The right-arm pacer trapped Jadeja in front of the stumps and cleaned up Barot. But Saurashtra had nothing to lose. The lead kept building and all the batters had a bit of match practice.
Sheldon Jackson 25 off 49 (4×4), Arpit Vasavada 48 off 123 (4×3) and Chirag Jani 23 off 49 (4×2) chipped in with their little contributions to help extend the lead. At one point, even the handful of spectators were wishing for a Saurashtra declaration. But the batsmen were in no hurry. They were jogging for their singles, did not push for the twos and were neither hitting boundaries. Then, entered Prerak Mankad. The right-hander almost went run-a-ball till he reached his second fifty of the match. His 12 boundaries ticked away the moments of the dull day.
Mankad 85 off 116 (12×4) fell to spinner Jyothi Saikrishna only after Saurasthra had reached 350. At the other end, Dharmendrasinh Jadeja batted for 106 balls for his 60 (7×4).
Andhra captain and wicketkeeper K. S. Bharat stumps Sheldon Jackson on the fourth day of the Ranji Trophy quarterfinal. – V. V. SUBRAHMANYAM
Andhra used all the available bowlers in its arsenal as Yarra Prithviraj’s absence hampered the combination upfront. Except C. R. Gnaneshwar, everybody rolled an arm. Sai Krishna (4/47) was the pick of the bowlers, but those wickets equally belong to wicketkeeper K.S. Bharat, who caught Mankad, stumped Jackson, Jani and Jadeja. In fact, the umpire had initially turned down the appeal against Jani but Bharat kept persuading him to knock upstairs. He also caught Vasavada off C. Stephen. Saurashtra will bat till the last wicket falls on Day 5. Andhra will not be able to qualify for the semifinal. All it can do is play for pride and save an outright loss.
Brief scores: Saurashtra 375/9 (P Mankad 85, D Jadeja 60, A Barot 54; J Saikrishna 4/47, M Rafi 3/92
Highest fourth innings targets in Ranji Trophy
Bombay 958 beat Maharashtra 604 all out in 1948-49
Bombay 866 beat Holkar 492 in 1944-45
Madhya Pradesh 787 beat Bengal 432 all out in 2015-16
Maharashtra 422 drew with Uttar Pradesh 391/7 in 2009-10
Mumbai 383 beat Rajasthan 381 all out in 2007-08
Uttar Pradesh 372 lost to Saurashtra 372/4 by six wickets in 2018-19
Highest successful run chases in Ranji Trophy
Saurashtra vs Uttar Pradesh (372/4) in 2018-19
Assam vs Services (371/4) in 2008-09
Rajasthan vs Vidarbha (360/4) in 1989-90
Rajasthan vs Services (357/5) in 2018-19
Punjab vs Bengal (344/4) in 1992-93