Ravindra Jadeja stars with five-wicket haul
Karnataka 265 for 8 (Uthappa 139, R Jadeja 5-71) v Saurashtra
Ravindra Jadeja continued his magnificent form to restrict Karnataka and help Saurashtra gain the upper hand on the opening day of their quarter-final clash. In a marathon 30-over spell of accurate and incisive left-arm spin Jadeja bagged his fourth five-for of the season which included three wickets in seven balls to overshadow Robin Uthappa's brilliant century.
At stumps R Vinay Kumar remained unbeaten on 22 after partnering Sunil Joshi in a 40-run eighth-wicket stand that frustrated Saurashtra.
Jadeja was introduced in the ninth over after lunch and bowled unchanged from the Churchgate End until stumps, troubling every batsman with his variations and bounce. In matter of a few overs either side of tea Jadeja swung the momentum in Saurashtra's favour with a flurry of wickets that included the prize scalp of Rahul Dravid, who was beginning to flourish in a third-wicket partnership with Uthappa.
Dravid, who struggled initially against the nagging off-stump attack of Jadeja and Jayesh Odedra, grew in confidence and was beginning to find his timing when Jadeja induced an edge with a delivery that turned and spat off the pitch. New man C Raghu tried to defend an armer that hit his pad in front of the stumps before Jadeja trapped his third victim, Thilak Naidu, with a similar delivery. Jadeja then attacked Uthappa and was unlucky not to get him when Sagar Jogiyani failed to latch on to an edge off an attempted cut.
The run-flow, which had gathered momentum in the second session, dropped after tea as Jadeja did the strangle act. He stuck a double blow once again, picking up two wickets off five balls. B Akhil, the Karnataka allrounder, went for an unconvincing sweep and was bowled. With Karnataka desperately needing Uthappa to survive the final session, Jadeja nailed him on the front pad as Uthappa prodded at a delivery outside off stump. Sanjay Hazare, the umpire, took a while to make his decision but Jadeja deserved the success for his doggedness.
Jadeja's success defied the teams' strategy to go in with an extra seamer: Karnataka chose to go in with debutant left-arm medium pacer S Aravind, while Saurashtra opted for Odedra, who repaid the trust with two early wickets.
A few damp spots on the pitch had delayed the start by half hour in the morning, but Karnataka openers, Uthappa and KB Pawan, progressed in a relaxed fashion after Saurashtra elected to field. Though the new-ball pair of Sandeep Jobanputra and Balkrishna Jadeja, both left-armers, tried to keep an off-and-middle stump line in their attempt to get the ball back into the right-handers, their strategy did not yield a positive result in the absence of any breeze, and the duo's lack of pace helped Karnataka to flourish.
Uthappa got off to a confident start with two punched drives to the midwicket boundary, and was quick to latch on to anything short, full, or wide. He had his share of luck too, when an inside edge off an attempted cut whistled over the stumps.
The openers had added 53 for the first wicket when Odedra struck with his variations in pace. Getting the ball to break off the pitch by rolling the fingers over the seam, he kept the batsmen guessing. Pawan wafted at a one that moved away after pitching and CM Gautam, the centurion in the previous game, shouldered arms to one that pitched on off and moved in to hit the stumps.
However, the fall of wickets did not impede Uthappa's progress as he flicked a couple of fours behind square to bring up his fifty. He cut Balkrishna for a boundary in the first over after lunch before driving him behind square for another four in the next over. As ever, he was inventive in his strokeplay. He utilised the 7-2 off-side field to quickly shuffle across and work the deliveries through midwicket.
Uthappa lofted the offspinner Kamlesh Makwana over wide long-on for the first six before reaching his ton with an aggressive straight drive. It brought up his third century of the year but the celebration was muted as the job was only half done. Unfortunately Jadeja did not allow him to end on a high.
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo