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Andhra, Goa stunned by turn on grassy surface

Goa fell behind despite Shadab Jakati's eight-for BCCI

Andhra coach Sanath Kumar has said he was surprised at spinners picking up 19 of the 20 wickets to fall on a Dhanbad surface that had a "lot of grass". Goa left-arm spinner Shadab Jakati, on the other hand, said he expected the surface to offer turn, but not on the first day itself.

Goa, sent in to bat, were shot out for 115, with left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt and debutant offspinner B Siddharth taking six and four wickets respectively. In response, Andhra, well placed at 100 for 3, were bowled out for 159 with Jakati taking career-best figures of 8 for 53. Andhra opener Srikar Bharat, who scored 68 off 67 balls, was the only batsman to pass 50 on either side.

Only 13 overs of the 90 were bowled by seamers from both sides. "We thought it was initially going to be a seamer-friendly wicket," Sanath told ESPNcricinfo. "We went with three seamers, and when we bowled the wicket was slow. Just to check the extent of moisture in the pitch, we bowled Bhargav and it started turning square. Then we continued with both the spinners.

"We have never played here, so nobody had an idea. Everybody thought the first day will help the seamers and then it will be good for batting and probably will turn on the third and fourth day. Also, the practice wicket we played on was nice - there was a lot of bounce and it was coming on nicely.

Jakati, who had a contrasting take on the practice pitches, said Goa would likely have batted first anyway had they won the toss, but admitted there was a bit of temptation to bowl because of the overcast conditions in the morning.

"I am not really surprised by the pitch because the practice wickets were similar to this, and I have played on this ground before," he said. "We knew batting fourth would be difficult on this wicket. The only thought in favour of bowling first was the conditions. We felt if you could play out those 45 minutes when the wicket was damp, it would have become good to bat on later. But, we didn't expect it to turn straightaway from the eighth or ninth over."

Jakati, who felt the excessive turn may have been caused by a high proportion of sand in the surface, said batsmen may have contributed to their own downfall by playing from the crease. "If you are really good at stepping out and playing to the spinners, then it's a challenge for the spinners," he said. "If you stay in the crease, it's difficult for the batsmen. Bharat played very positive cricket - anything short outside off stump, he was cutting, and any over-pitched ball he was trying to hit straight over the bowler's head."

Both Sanath and Jakati said there wasn't any variable bounce so far, but Sanath said it was hard to predict how the pitch would play hereon. "You don't find any big marks [on the pitch]; there is evenly distributed grass, too. Just like that we won't get fooled, no?" he laughed, clearly referring to how they misread the pitch. Jakati, meanwhile, underlined the importance of wiping out the deficit quickly. "A lead of 45 runs is obviously crucial on this type of a wicket, so hopefully we can first [wipe that out tomorrow]. If we can set them a target of around 140-150, then I feel we have a chance."