Saurashtra v Karnataka, Ranji Trophy Quarter-Final, 2nd day January 7, 2013

Vasavada ton sets Karnataka a challenge

Karnataka 45 for 0 trail Saurashtra 469 (Vasavada 152*, Jackson 83) by 424 runs

Two batsmen who are still finding their feet at the first-class level have tormented Karnataka's bowlers so far in the quarter-final in Rajkot. On the first day, it was Sheldon Jackson who steadied Saurashtra after they lost their biggest gun Cheteshwar Pujara early. Today, it was the turn of Aarpit Vasavada, who made his second first-class century - not the most spectacular effort but a grinding one - that stretched Saurashtra's total to a healthy 469.

Saurashtra began the day on 272 for 5, and if Karnataka were looking for an early end to the innings, the bespectacled Vasavada denied them with a patient effort. On Sunday, one of the most common sights with Vasavada in the middle was him plunging a long way forward, keeping bat and pad close together as he studiously defended the bowling, holding the bat in position well after blocking the ball. He kept out plenty of deliveries today as well, scoring only 28 in the two-and-a-half hour morning session.

"The pitch is a bit slow so it's not easy to play strokes," Vasavada said after the day's play. "You have to wait for the balls in the zone to score runs. There are a few bowlers' marks and the rough made it hard."*

Vasavada has spent several years with the Saurashtra squad but only this year he has got an extended run. He has repaid the faith with three half-centuries and two hundreds in his last eight innings. He got to triple-figures with a punch past extra cover and savoured the moment by holding his hands aloft, before acknowledging the cheers of his team-mates in the dressing room.

The pitch had plenty of green on it, barely distinguishable from the rest of the turf but except for the odd ball that bounced extra from the spinners, had little to encourage the bowlers. Both No. 6 Chirag Jani and No. 7 Kamlesh Makvana made 30s to put on significant partnerships with Vasavada. Jani had a let-off on 34 when he was put down by Amit Verma at long-off, but the very next ball he holed out to deep backward square leg. Slow progress continued after tea as well, and it wasn't till more than halfway through the final session that Karnataka managed to wrap up the innings.

Still Vasavada felt Saurashtra should have got more. "500+ score ideal but I hope this is enough," he said. "It's turning but it's not unplayable. You can score runs if you have some patience but if the bowler can bowl at all the right spots, it will do a bit. It's a sporting wicket."

Karnataka's batting has been inconsistent all season, and what had been a settled line-up for several years has had plenty of changes over the past two months. Opener KB Pawan Kumar has been dropped, Ganesh Satish, who was captain in some games last season, has had to sit out several matches, and left-hand batsman Amit Verma has also been left out for two games. The only specialist batsman to have played all matches this season is their most well-known name, Robin Uthappa.

He and KL Rahul played out the final hour before stumps, taking Karnataka to 45 for 0 without needing to take too many risks. That partnership would have lasted only one ball if Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, who hit the headlines in his debut match last week against Maharashtra, had held on to a catch from Rahul at square leg off the first delivery of the innings.

One of the problems for Karnataka's batsmen for much of the league phase was the lack of big hundreds from their specialist batsmen. It was only in the previous couple of rounds that the centuries have arrived in number; before that both Uthappa and Pandey had scored four fifties each without going on to centuries. They will need more than that if Karnataka are to match Saurashtra in the first innings.

*7 Jan 2012, 17.00 GMT This story has been updated to include Aarpit Vasavada's quotes

Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Devvrat on January 8, 2013, 7:49 GMT

    I am from Rajkot but I work in Bangalore, cannot decide which team to support. I hope Saurashtra wins as they played some good cricket this season. Progressing to semi-finals will give them a good boost. If they progress to semi-finals it will be tough one as Jadeja and Pujara may be on One Day duties against England.

  • Dummy4 on January 8, 2013, 5:36 GMT

    Karnataka is a unpredictable side... just like Pakistan

  • sam on January 8, 2013, 5:10 GMT

    Sometimes, it is funny some of my Bangalorean friends wanted Manish Pandey in the test team. Even though I am from Bangalore, I never saw anything special in his technique despite a stellar first Ranji season (remember Mithun). Only CM Gautam can be a backup wicketkeeper in the test team but he has Saha and Karthik before him (and deservedly so) in the pecking order. Such is the state of affairs that Karnataka which produced two (Kumble, Rahul) out of the four (Kumble, Rahul, Sehwag, Sachin) India greats in the last decade and also one (Srinath) of the three (Kapil, Srinath, Zaheer) greatest India fast bowlers do not produce anyone who is good enough to find a place in the fifteen member test squad. Some people are forced on to the Indian test team (e.g. Vinay in Perth) because of political reasons and end up embarrassing themselves. I think KCA needs to look at the domestic structure again and tough measures need to be taken to improve quality of domestic players.

  • Sathish on January 8, 2013, 1:56 GMT

    Karnataka will surely take first innings lead , Batting order is tried and tested one, Last year QF will haunt them to perform to their best ,With proven talent like Robin , Manish .Karnataka can eye title this season.

  • Dummy4 on January 8, 2013, 1:45 GMT

    "That partnership would have lasted only one ball if Dharmendrasinh Jadeja, who hit the headlines in his debut match last week against Maharashtra..." If I'm not wrong, it was against Madhya Pradesh.

  • Hari on January 7, 2013, 15:44 GMT

    The headline "Vasavada ton puts Saurashtra on top" is highly misleading and inappropriate. 45/0 is not a bad start at all, considering that Karnataka has scored 500+ on 3 occassions and several double centuries too. True, consistency has been an issue but the situation is not as alarming as the headline suggests.

  • Dummy4 on January 7, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    the above comment exactly depicts the story of karnataka lineup. but i think pandey is due for a big one (of course with one or two lives) and karnataka will just scrape through in the end for the innings lead

  • Rajesh on January 7, 2013, 13:42 GMT

    There is no guarantee of Uthappa and Pandey. Law of averages may catch up with Gautam. Kunal Kapoor does not look all that assured despite 2 centuries against Haryana at Hubli. His other 6 innings scores are 11, 6, 8no, 7, 30 and 8. KL Rahul, regarded highly by his namesake 'the Wall', has to score. Then there is the lottery named Binny. If Amit Verma gets past 30runs then he will score big. I just hope that Saurashtra give one life to either of uthappa or pandey and they go on to score big. Interesting day ahead.

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