Kotak guides Saurashtra to safety after early strikes
Shitanshu Kotak led the way with a dogged 95 not-out as Saurashtra finished on 226 for 6 on day one of their Ranji Trophy Plate Group semi-final against Madhya Pradesh at Rajkot. Electing to field, MP managed to reduce Saurashtra to 120 for 6, with Anand Rajan proving a handful with his right-arm medium pace.
Impressive in his control, Rajan bagged four of the six wickets to fall as Saurashtra's middle order stuttered during the first session. It was then that Kotak came to the fore, putting on 100 for the seventh wicket with Rakesh Dhurv (34*) in 189 deliveries. Bringing up his fifty from 215 minutes and 151 balls, Kotak was rock-solid in his defiance of Rajan and the other MP bowlers. Just five short of his ninth first-class hundred, Kotak will need to carry on for the better part of day two if Saurashtra intend on building their dominance.
Besides winning two games, MP, who have played all the games at home, conceded and gained the first innings' lead twice each. Saurashtra, however, have been the more aggressive team, as their three victories suggest. Prior to the match, Jaydev Shah, Saurashtra's captain, hinted that his team will go for the kill on a grassy Rajkot wicket. "Our team was the first to qualify for the semis," he said to the Hindustan Times. "And now that the pressure is off, we will play without any pressure and try to earn a place in the Elite division (for the first time)."