Jharkhand 214 for 5 (Kishan 61, Jaggi 40*, RP Singh 3-48) trail Gujarat 390 (Panchal 149, Parthiv 62, Ajay Yadav 3-67, Shukla 3-71) by 176 runs
File photo – RP Singh scored 40 useful runs lower down and nipped out three Jharkhand batsmen © Associated Press
After a lacklustre opening day, Jharkhand lived in the hope of turning up better with the second new ball. Rajiv Kumar, the coach, was disappointed at their lack of intensity for most parts of Sunday. Having conceded 283 for 3, perhaps they may have gone on the defensive if this was a four-day game. But the extra day in the knockouts presents teams with the challenge to continue attacking. Jharkhand were rewarded handsomely for doing just that, but a batting slide, triggered by RP Singh, helped Gujarat nudge ahead on a see-saw second day in Nagpur.
It seemed as though the plan of Jharkhand’s pacers was to get the batsmen driving. A hint of swing in the first half hour meant hitting through the line wasn’t prudent. But Ajay Yadav stuck to his disciplines admirably and forced Gujarat to make mistakes. He picked up three wickets in a relentless nine-over spell that helped Jharkhand break open; Gujarat lost their last seven wickets for 96 to be bowled out for 390 in the third over after lunch.
Jharkhand were then rattled early by RP Singh, who dismissed Sumit Kumar and Pratyush Singh in an inspired seven-over spell. Virat Singh made an attractive 34 before being bowled, attempting a cut off Bhatt’s part-time offspin. Saurabh Tiwary’s dismissal for 39 – he gestured to the umpire that he got an inside edge – left Jharkhand at 121 for 4. Ishan Kishan‘s counter-attacking 59-ball 61 briefly threw Gujarat off guard, before Parthiv, in a last roll of the dice, gave RP Singh a second spell with 10 minutes to stumps. It yielded Kishan’s wicket and helped Gujarat end the day with the edge as Jharkhand finished on 214 for 5, still trailing by 176.
Kishan, let off on 4 when a thick edge off left-arm seamer Rush Kalaria flew to Parthiv’s right, walked out to a packed cordon. But he counter-attacked with nine fours and two sixes, while Ishank Jaggi, the face of Jharkhand’s batting for over five seasons now, was more measured and rotated strike tactfully in a 92-run fifth-wicket stand that came off just 106 balls.
The mood considerably changed in the last half hour when Kishan stepped out to loft Bhatt for two sixes, over long-off and long-on, and hooked Jasprit Bumrah for six over deep fine leg. That it was Gujarat, and not the batsmen, who were playing for close, was evident when Parthiv employed a defensive field to ensure runs didn’t bleed. With mid-off and cover in, Kishan’s leading edge lobbed to Bumrah, leaving a crowd of 300, who were thoroughly entertained by the innings, stunned.
That this game came to life early was because of Jharkhand’s inspired opening burst. Yadav allied the early-morning assistance with immaculate accuracy that helped him move the ball late. Priyank Panchal, the overnight centurion who opened scoring with two boundaries on Sunday, went into a shell. The pressure of not being able to score freely brought out a loose shot. Driving away from the body, Panchal nicked Yadav to second slip for 149.
Off his next over, his third of the morning, Yadav squared up Manprit Juneja with a delivery that left him late, and Virat Singh dived forward to complete a low catch at gully. From their overnight 283 for 3, Gujarat, who impressed upon the need to bat big and give themselves a first-innings cushion, were 299 for 5.
Signs of aggression surfaced when Kishan, who took over captaincy duties with Tiwary off the field, strengthened the cordon by adding a third slip and a second gully. With a vociferous cordon chirping away, a nervous Chirag Gandhi, looking to squeeze out quick runs, flashed at an outswinger from Yadav to Pratyush at third slip.
When Kalaria played all around a full delivery to be bowled by Rahul Shukla off the next over, a capitulation seemed imminent. But Jharkhand were thwarted by RP Singh, who swiped and slogged his way to 40 with five fours and a six, before Shukla nipped out the last two wickets.
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo