rest of india 298 for 8 wickets (Sudarshan 72, Bharat 36, Ghost 4-85) vs Saurashtra
The dismissal of Sudarshan faltered – Rest of India lost 3 wickets for 22 runs – but useful contributions from the lower order pulled them close to 300 at stumps on the first day.
Sudarshan laid the foundation for Rest of India’s victory with a 69-run opening partnership with Mayank Agarwal after winning the crucial toss on a difficult surface. Sudarshan was cautious in the initial exchanges against home veteran Jaydev Unadkat but then got to work with a Sadagoppan Ramesh-like flick off Chirag Jani in the sixth over.
Saurashtra introduced spin in the form of Dharmendrasinh Jadeja as early as the ninth over and paired him with Yuvrajsingh Dodiya. With two slips and a silly point, Dodiya moved around the wicket and regularly bought buys to threaten Sudarshan’s outside edge, but the batsman patiently let him out. As for Agarwal, he attacked the spinners with sweeps for a while before Jadeja took a bat-pad catch to slip him for 32.
Sudarshan too could have been out on 23 when Dodiya pulled him out of the crease, but wicketkeeper Harvik Desai missed the stumping chance. After this Sudarshan became strict: he was either right forward or right back to deal with spin and waited for loose balls. And when they came, he drove them away with blows and blows. One such flick brought him to his half-century before lunch.
Either side of the lunch break, Unadkat got some sharp inswing and a silly mid-on in his place, but Sudarshan did not fall into that trap. He also added 69 runs for the second wicket with Hanuma Vihari before the Rest of India captain had left-arm fingerspinner Parth Bhutt caught at silly point by Samarth Vyas. Ghost later got rid of Sudarshan and Yash Dhull to expose the lower-middle order.
KS Bharat and Shams Mulani then hit back and helped the rest of India regain some lost ground. Uttar Pradesh’s Saurabh Kumar further disappointed Saurashtra by scoring 30 not out.
Overall, the fast bowlers bowled just 16 out of 90 overs on the first day, with the spin trio of Bhutt, Jadeja and Dodiya making big changes. Rest of India also have three spinners – Saurabh, Mullani and Pulkit Narang – and they will also have a major role to play on a pitch that will get slower as the game progresses.