‘It was moving a lot and there was some moisture in the wicket in the first hour’ – Jaydev Unadkat © Getty Images
Saurashtra might have been lucky with the toss which gave them first use of a pitch responsive to fast bowling, but it was the bowling line-up’s patience and attention to detail that produced results for much of the day. It must have been tempting to be swayed by the exaggerated movement off the surface, and the momentum that three quick wickets brought. Saurashtra’s pacers, though, were never indulgent; they were happy bowling a run-drying line during the second session that saw them go wicketless.
“We needed to get our standards up after that, so I thought the spell we bowled after tea was more of skill rather than the [assistance from the] wicket,” Jaydev Unadkat told ESPNcricinfo. “It was moving a lot and there was some moisture in the wicket in the first hour. But I feel the wicket eased out after the first hour.
“That [to not give runs away easily] was the priority throughout the day. Even in the first session, we were making sure we don’t bowl too many bad balls. Probably in that partnership as well, we controlled the runs and built up the pressure. We were bowling according to the wicket. We bowled good lengths and let the batsman commit errors.”
Unadkat, who picked up three wickets, said polishing the ball helped the fast bowlers sustain their threat throughout the day. “I think the slip fielders were really looking after the ball well. That’s probably a minor thing but it sometimes plays a major part in a team’s performance,” he said.
“If you see the ball now it [does] not [look] old. We nominate a couple of batsmen to do that, probably Avi [Barot] and Arpit [Vasavada] were the ones doing it today. Generally it is up to the slip fielders to do it because they get the ball straight from the keeper.
“It’s difficult sometimes to motivate themselves [to do it] but this is where the team spirit comes in play. They could easily shine the ball lightly and give it to the bowlers, but they didn’t do that. You have to apply some load on the ball and shine it hard.”
Unadkat’s effectiveness was also multiplied by the presence of fellow left-armer Hardik Rathod at the other end. Rathod dismissed the openers, and took Arun Karthik‘s wicket to enable his team to scythe through the middle order. The similarity between Unadkat and Rathod was hard to miss – both enjoyed hitting the pitch hard, thrived on the resultant bounce and bowled more than 20 overs each. “That’s true [that we have similar styles]. He is also tall like me and he also depends on the natural bounce we get from the wicket because of our height,” Unadkat said.
“The wrist position was nice, that’s why I was getting that shape till the end. I have seen him working on the same aspects in the nets. You can say that we were complementing each other, and that’s why the batsmen were finding it difficult from both the ends.”
Arun Karthik also attributed his team’s batting struggle to Saurashtra’s disciplined bowling. “They just kept bowling in the same areas and gave nothing away all day,” he said. “I would say we have had a decent day, not a bad one because they bowled really well.
“In a knockout game the longer you make the opponents field the better it is. That was my plan after tea. Because we were set for a big target and their bowlers had also tired. I got out at the wrong time.”
Unadkat felt the seam bowlers would be in play on all five days. “The wicket will ease out for sure but it is not going to deteriorate,” he said. “I think there will be help for seamers in the first hour of all the five days. There is moisture beneath the pitch so it will come up. The ground is open and once the wind starts blowing, [like] after tea today, it starts swinging as well.”
Arun Venugopal is a correspondent at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo