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Saurabh Kumar’s All-round Show Puts Rest of India in Firm Control


All-rounder Saurabh Kumar hit a strokeful fifty before returning to snap two wickets as the Rest of India tightened the noose around Saurashtra on day 2 of the Irani Cup match here on Sunday.

Saurabh smashed 10 boundaries in his 78-ball 55 and added 71 with Jayant Yadav (37) for the seventh wicket to take ROI close to the 350-mark after Sarfaraz Khan dominated the opening day with a century.

It was Saurabh’s innings which helped ROI grab a solid 276-run first-innings lead over Saurashtra.

The 29-year-old from Uttar Pradesh then returned to dismiss both the Saurashtra openers — Harvik Desai (20) and Snell Patel (16) — as ROI gained further ascendency in the match.

At stumps, Chirag Jani (3 batting) and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (8 batting) were at the crease with Saurashtra, the 2019-20 Ranji Trophy Champions, at 49 for two in 17 overs, still trailing by 227 runs.

Earlier, left-arm fast bowler Chetan Sakariya gave Saurashtra a glimmer of hope with a five-wicket haul as they dismissed ROI for 374 in 110 overs.

The 24-year-old (5/93) snapped four wickets to go with the one scalp he took on the opening day after Chirag Jani removed the overnight batters Hanuma Vihari (82) and Sarfaraz (138) in the first sessions.

After dominating the opening day, ROI resumed day two at 205 for three with skipper Vihari and centurion Sarfaraz batting for more than an hour, adding another 33 runs to their overnight partnership.

However, both departed in quick succession with Jani producing the breakthroughs.

Jani first had Hanuma caught by Harvik Desai before trapping Sarfaraz in front of wicket in his opening spell to reduce ROI to 239 for 5 in the 65th over.

It was a Sakariya show after that as he drew Srikar Bharat (12 off 44) with a full delivery after coming round the wicket and induced an edge which was caught by Harvik Desai.

A 71-run stand followed between Jayant and Saurabh and it was Sakariya once again in action as he removed the former with another full delivery which held its line outside the off stump and got an edge from the batter.

The 24-year-old pacer then managed to get a top-edge from the blade of Saurabh, who went for a pull despite not being in position, only to be caught by Snell Patel.

Sakariya then completed his five-for when he sent back Mukesh Kumar with Prerak Mankad taking a sensational catch diving across at gully area.

Kuldeep Sen was the last batter to go after he was run out.

After a disastrous batting display in the first innings, a lot was expected from Saurashtra and the opening duo of Desai and Patel did well to see off the new ball spell from Mukesh Kumar and Kuldeep Sen.

However, left-arm spinner Saurabh, who didn’t bowl in the first innings, made life difficult for the batters after he was introduced in the 11th over.

He produced four successive maiden overs and in the process snapped both the openers.

While Snell chipped one straight to Sarfaraz at cover, Desai got an outside edge and Vihari, a first slip, held on to the catch after the ball got deflected after hitting the keeper’s thigh.

Earlier in the day, Mayank Agarwal had to rush to a hospital for a precautionary scan after he was hit on the head with a throw just before the start of Saurashtra’s second innings.

The incident happened when Mayank was heading towards his fielding position when a high throw from one of the fielders landed straight on his head.

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