Saurashtra thrive on Punjab's mistakes

Ranji Trophy semis: Saurashtra take a giant step towards final.

Rajkot: A new ball taken after a sip of tea can help a team renew itself. Ask Saurashtra.

Uday Kaul took off for a run that didn't exist. His partner Taruwar Kohli in fact was in fact applauding his partner's forward defensive stroke, with the bat above the head, when he realised that he had to run. By the time the striker made a botched attempt to dive into the crease, Siddharth Trivedi had sent the ball into the stumps. Why Kaul called for the run is a question only he can answer.

This wicket triggered the collapse.

Kohli followed his partner home off the very next ball, trying to pull a delivery off Jaydev Unadkat, that only ended up as a top-edge in Shitanshu Kotak's hands in the slips. Bipul Sharma struck a four, before edging the ball to Aarpit Vasavada in the slips, off Trivedi.

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Then Unadkat removed Amitoze Singh, celebrating his second wicket, by completing his follow through with a celebratory run all the way to long leg. One can say that Siddharth Kaul is a good bowler, but with the bat he could manage only one.

Harbhajan Singh removed his helmet, and called for some water to remove dust that had entered his eyes.

Was it in disbelief? Who knows. But he could only watch as Vishal Joshi sent Sandeep Sharma back by sending the ball through the gap between the latter's bat and pad. Bowled. Six wickets gone within a space of thirty-five runs. 294/9 at stumps.

But life wasn't so bad for Punjab at the start of play on day three.

On a nippy day, that forced some Saurashtra players to call for sweaters from the dressing room, openers Jiwanjot Singh and Ravi Inder Singh looked in control. With the chill persisting despite the sun announcing its presence, the two forced local skipper Shah to use his spinners, after the pacers struggled to pick up a wicket.

Jiwanjot in particular, was on his toes, as he drove on the up. His small feet shuffling well, to reach out to the pitch of the ball. The season's highest run-getter was taking a good stride forward, in defence and in attack.

Punjab were going strong.

Partner Ravi Inder Singh too played a steady hand, raking up 74 well-compiled runs before Vishal Joshi turned the ball from leg to off, bounce included, as the edge flew to Shah in the slips.

As the left-hander left, one wicket on the scoreboard soon became two, when Jiwanjot was trapped leg-before-wicket for 68. Spinner Joshi was clearly bringing life back into Saurashtra's sagging spirit.

Mandeep Singh hung around to score 20, before going for a full-blooded slog sweep that should have gone to the fence, if it hadn't lodged itself in Vasavada's armpit. Talk about a fielder coming up with an 'arm ball'.

Mandeep could only shrug and walk off, as the hosts came together for a wild celebration. Lady Luck sometimes arrives, when a team is in the pits. The rest of the story is at the start. And, that is what Saurashtra have here-an opportunity to work on a start. What they do with it will be revealed on day four.

This game is alive ladies and gentlemen. Should we 'lead' between the lines?

Quick Quote:

Abhi kuch nahi bolunga. What were you thinking before Uday Kaul got run out? There are 2 days left to go. All I can say is that we have a slight advantage - Saurashtra coach Debu Mitra

Scoreboard:

Punjab- 1st Innings: Trail by 183 runs with one wicket remaining

Jiwanjot Singh lbw b Joshi 68
Ravi Inder Singh c Shah b Joshi 74
Taruwar Kohli c Kotak b Unadkat 59
Mandeep Singh c Vasavada b Joshi 20
Uday Kaul run out (Trivedi) 31
Amitoze Singh c Jogiyani b Unadkat 5
Bipul Sharma c Vasavada b Trivedi 4
Harbhajan Singh not out 29
Siddharth Kaul c Jogiyani b Unadkat 1
Sandeep Sharma b Joshi 2
Sarabjit Ladda not out 0

Extras (W 1)

Total: 294/9 after 107 overs

Fall of wickets: 1-128, 2-152, 3-195, 4-252, 5-252, 6-261, 7-267, 8-272, 9-287.

Bowling:
J Unadkat 22-6-52-3
S Trivedi 21-8-45-1
D Jadeja 25-1-86-0
K Makvana 21-4-52-0
V Joshi 18-2-59-4

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