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Match Analysis

Sheldon Jackson keeping track of his numbers while waiting for India A call-up

He is leading the run-charts for Saurashtra for the second straight season

Sheldon Jackson flicks the ball square, Karnataka v Saurashtra, 2nd semi-final, Ranji Trophy 2018-19, Day 4, January 27, 2019

Sheldon Jackson flicks the ball square  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

"You scored 700-800 runs last season..."
"Eight hundred and fifty-six [854]."
"This season also…"
"Approaching 750."
"So, what do you think is lacking for an India A selection?"
"I guess you should ask that to the selectors whenever you meet them next."
This was Saurashtra's Sheldon Jackson after a measured 69 not out on the first day of the semi-final against Gujarat in Rajkot.
The day had started with Gujarat opting to bowl and Chintan Gaja putting the Saurashtra openers in trouble by consistently taking the ball away from a fourth-stump line. Twice Gaja was unlucky not to have Kishan Parmar's wicket; the first time he overstepped when the batsman was caught in the slips, and then later Roosh Kalaria dropped a simple chance at long leg.
Despite that, Gujarat managed to reduce the hosts to 102 for 3, with two wickets in back-to-back overs. With his side in a precarious situation, Jackson walked in. While the new-ball threat was over, Axar Patel was not only bowling miserly but also looking increasingly threatening, and had figures of 16-10-12-2 at one stage.
It was a typical Axar spell, attacking the stumps and hurrying the batsmen with his pace. Jackson had a tricky task at hand. He not only had to avert the Axar threat but also stabilise his team. And how did he do that? In typical Jackson style, smashing two sixes in the spinner's next two overs.
Parthiv Patel brought Gaja back from the other end, and the seamer once again got purchase from the pitch. Jackson, though, showed great restraint against him, by either defending or shouldering arms. At one point, he had played ten dots in a row against Gaja.
Playing at No. 4, Vishvaraj Jadeja supported Jackson well and the two took Saurashtra to 162 to 3 with their 60-run stand. But Arzan Nagwaswalla's two wickets in two balls left Jackson with another rescue task.
This time he found an ally in Chirag Jani. The duo faced a slew of dot balls during their unbroken stand of 55 but Jackson kept finding the odd boundary to keep the scoreboard moving. In the process, he brought up his half-century as well, and took the side to 217 for 5 at stumps.
On a day, when an otherwise batting-friendly Rajkot pitch assisted seamers, Jackson's knock kept the hosts in the contest. But with the second new ball only six overs old, even he knows the job is half done. But what he doesn't know is why he hasn't been selected for India A despite a good last season.
He was the leading run-scorer for Saurashtra with a tally of 854 runs at an average of 47.44. In fact, no Saurashtra player made the cut for India A despite the side reaching the finals, and that led to an outburst on Twitter. This time, he is currently on 749 runs at an even better average of 57.61.
"Because I don't know [why I don't get selected for India A] and I don't want to get into all that, but next time, whenever you meet them [selectors], do ask them and if they give an answer, tell me as well."
But did he ask the selectors himself?
"No, not formally, not even informally. I haven't asked anyone why I am not getting picked."
Perhaps it's the competition?
"How many players score 700-800 runs consistently every year, can you give me a record of that," Jackson argues. "How many such players are there in India? Not even a handful. You see Jaydev [Unadkat], [on a] flat wicket he takes five, seaming wicket he takes five, turning track he takes five. We are doing our bit. Getting picked, not getting picked is not in our hands."
Talking about the ongoing match, Jackson said with the top order not sticking around for long, and Cheteshwar Pujara and Ravindra Jadeja unavailable, he had to shelve his aggressive game.
"You see we get Chintu [Pujara] and Ravindra very on and off. When they are there, I can play my game and express myself more. When they are not there, I have to play these kind of innings where I have to construct and have to carry certain players with me because the more I bat, the more I make others bat, the more the team benefits."
But is he happy with his team's position?
"I will say 20-30 more runs would have made the total look decent. Had it been 240-245, we would have been happier. Let's see how it pans out from here."

Hemant Brar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo