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The Report by Amol Karhadkar in Jamshedpur
January 7, 2013
Jharkhand 310 for 6 (Nemat 100, Jaggi 126*) v Punjab
Poor visibility in Jamshedpur, due to fog, meant that only 40 overs were possible during the second day, resulting in over two sessions of play lost due to bad weather over two days. In that period, Ishank Jaggi scored his maiden hundred of the Ranji season to help Jharkhand remain in the game. Had it not been for Jaggi's resilient knock, combined with flair and caution, the Punjab openers could well have had a look in before the premature end to the day's proceedings.
If the half hour delay on the opening day was bad, the second day was worse. Play began 80 minutes after the scheduled start of 9am, reducing the first session to 70 minutes. When the teams returned after lunch, they took the field for only two balls, before returning indoors for almost an hour and a half. Another 65 minutes of play was followed by tea and the final session only lasted 40-odd minutes.
Walking in with Jharkhand at an uneasy 97 for 3, Jaggi had to resort to defensive tactics during the opening day. His overnight partner, the opener Rameez Nemat, was undone by a Harbhajan Singh top-spinner three balls after celebrating his maiden first-class ton. Following the dismissal, Jaggi preferred to play his shots instead of just blocking the ball. As a result, he ended up scoring 76 out of his team's tally of 115 on the second day to remain unbeaten on 126.
Jaggi had to move down the order from his preferred No.3 position with the inclusion of three openers in the XI. He drove the Punjab spin duo of Harbhajan, who appeared to be at his best after a while, and legspinner Sarabjit Ladda at the start of the day. He was rewarded for his approach as he managed seven boundaries in the first session, in contrast to his five during the course of the first day.
Soon after a prolonged lunch break, Jaggi flicked Siddarth Kaul to the square leg fence to bring up his seventh first-class century. Then on, it was the Kaul show with the second new ball. The medium-pacer first forced Kumar Deobrat to nick one to Uday Kaul behind the stumps. Four overs later, he forced the wicketkeeper SP Gautam to edge to Amitoze Singh at first slip. Jaggi and Sunny Gupta then avoided any further damage till the weather had the final say.
Both camps would hope for better weather in the coming days so the match will not have to be extended by an additional day in case the first innings is not completed within five days. On a day when uncertainty prevailed over who would be ruling the state of Jharkhand, there was no doubt whatsoever that the winner on the cricket field at the Keenan Stadium was the weather.