Saurashtra 247/5 against Mumbai’s 637 in Ranji Trophy semisJanuary 6th, 2009 - 8:57 pm ICT by IANS
Chennai, Jan 6 (IANS) Saurashtra, facing Mumbai’s massive first innings total of 637 for six declared, plodded their way to 247 for five at close on the third and penultimate day of the Ranji Trophy semi-final here Tuesday.Veteran Sitanshu Kotak (89, 211b, 11 x 4), with a characteristic dour innings, held the innings together that threatened to fall apart following the loss of two early wickets.
Kotak’s dismissal, when he uppishly turned paceman Dhawal Kulkarni into the hands of leg-slip fielder Rohit Sharma at the fag end of the day, virtually sealed Saurashtra’s fate as they face the prospect of losing in the semi-final for the second consecutive season.
Saurashtra’s slim hopes now rest on their skipper Jayadev Shah who grafted his way to an unbeaten 45.
The 36-year-old Kotak, who made his first class debut in the 1992-93, batted with tremendous concentration and certain doggedness to defy everything that the strong Mumbai attack threw at him.
As well as the left-handed Kotak batted, much of Saurashtra’s hopes rested on their prodigal son, Cheteshwar Pujara who has been in top form. However, after compiling 39 and when looking good, Pujara nicked off-spinner Ramesh Powar to skipper Wasim Jaffer in the slips while attempting a late-cut.
Captain Jayadev hung around to boost Saurashtra’s total in the company of Kotak, it was a struggle right through the day on a pitch that was getting progressively slower.
The Mumbai attack looked sharp as Zaheer Khan and Ajit Agarkar bowled with hostility in the morning. The crafty Powar then kept the batsmen on a leash as did Kulkarni.
Zaheer did come in for some punishment in his initial overs when opener Chirag Pathak attacked him, but the India bowler was not to be denied as he tempted Pathak into playing the hook only to be caught in the deep.
Agarkar then chipped in by castling the other opener Bhushan Chauhan to put Saurashtra under pressure at 52 for two. Pujara and Kotak added 71 runs for the third wicket though the duo had to work hard.
The loss of Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja, who edged Zaheer to wicket-keeper Vinayak Samant, yet again pushed Saurashtra on the backfoot before Shah and Kotak put together a 94-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Shah batted within his limitations though occasionally he took undue risk, but luck was on his side on the day.
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