An incisive spell by J. Suchith helped Karnataka tie Saurashtra down to 288 for nine on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy encounter here on Thursday.
Suchith recorded figures of five for 104, keeping his dream season going. The left-arm spinner, drafted into the playing XI this year to replace the unavailable K. Gowtham, has taken two four-wicket hauls and one fifer in the three matches before this one.
Suchith extracted considerable turn and bounce as early as in the first session, and was destructive when he kept it full. A couple of close appeals went his way as well. South African umpire Brad White gave Harvik Desai and Sheldon Jackson out caught when no bat seemed to be involved.
Saurashtra found its hero in Jaydev Shah, who hit a 159-ball 97.
Jaydev, playing his last game, dug the host out of a hole. His 73-run sixth-wicket stand with Prerak Mankad (37, 57b) kept Saurashtra afloat, on a day otherwise dominated by the bowlers.
Jaydev was happy to attack the spinners — legspinner Shreyas Gopal, in particular. The skipper regularly stepped out and smacked the ball straight, while anything short was cut away square.
Deshpande makes life difficult
It was the part-time spin of Pavan Deshpande that gave Jaydev the most trouble. Deshpande bowled wide of the crease and got the ball to straighten, making life difficult for the southpaw. Jaydev eventually fell to Deshpande just short of a century, when he attempted to cut too close to the body. The thick edge bobbled around in the cordon, until R. Samarth grabbed the chance at second slip.
Rescue act: Jaydev Shah en route to his 97 on Thursday in Rajkot.
A disappointed Jaydev, with his father and veteran administrator Niranjan Shah in attendance at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, walked off the field to a standing ovation from his team-mates.
Jaydev made the most of a life given by Karun Nair early in his knock, when Nair put down a fairly regulation chance at slip. Kamlesh Makvana (31 n.o., 76b) held fort until close of play.
Deshpande, meanwhile, carried the fifth bowler burden admirably well, bowling 29 neat overs for three wickets. This is his best haul in the five first-class matches he has played so far. With pacer Ronit More dropped, Karnataka will certainly need the likes of Deshpande and Samarth to contribute with the ball.
- Saurashtra 288 for 9 (Jaydev Shah 97, Arpit Vasavada 38, Prerak Mankad 37, Kamlesh Makwana 31 n.o., J. Suchith 5 for 104, Pavan Deshpande 3 for 78) vs Karnataka.