Snell Patel played a lone hand to keep Saurashtra in the game as home team chipped away with wickets from the other end. Saurashtra ended the day at 158/5 with Prerak Mankad giving company to Patel. The two will now have to score the bulk of runs if Saurashtra are to get anywhere close to Vidarbha's total of 312.
Aditya Sarwate picked 3/41 and was well supported by Akshay Wakhare, who ended with figures of 2/42. Both the spinners used flight and pitched the ball up to keep the batsmen on the backfoot.
Sarwate came onto bowl in only the third over of the innings and struck immediately, removing opener Harvik Desai for 10. Vishvaraj Jadeja and Patel then got together to put a 52-run stand but at no stage did Vidarbha seem to be completely outplayed. The pitch had something in it for spinners and needed a measured approach from the batsmen before they could start looking for their shots.
Sarwate trapped Jadeja leg before wicket for 18 and in walked Cheteshwar Pujara - who was always going to be a key batsman for Saurashtra. His battle against Umesh Yadav was touted to be something to watch out for, but that lasted only one delivery.
Instead, it was Sarwate who got the better of Pujara, dismissing him for 1 in what seemed to be a well-executed plan.
Sarwate bowled with two slips - one almost adjacent to the wicketkeeper - appearing almost like a triangle. Pujara's tentative push only resulted in a small nick and Wasim Jaffer took a smart catch at first slip. This happened on the last ball before tea as it completely changed the complexion of the game.
“I have seen him a lot in the Australia series," Sarwate said later. "He is a little tentative initially. He jabs the ball. That’s the reason a short-leg was kept. If the odd ball spun, there was a silly point.
“Fielders keep planning watching on television. If you put fielders in his weak areas, that can curtail his shots. Our plan was to attack as much as we could. We didn’t want him to step out.”
Patel was lucky to survive on 76 after he gloved one to short leg but the umpire didn't raise his finger. However, he kept losing partners at the other end with Arpit Vasavada (13) and Sheldon Jackson (9) departing cheaply as the Saurashtra middle-order collapsed.
Mankad and Patel saw through till stumps without any further damage.
Umesh went wicketless but bowled with a lot of heart as captain Faiz Fazal used him in short bursts. Umesh conceded only 17 runs in his 13 overs at an economy of 1.30.
Earlier, Akshay Karnewar's unbeaten 73 helped Vidarbha end at 312. He was well supported by Akshay Wakhare with the off-spinner making 34 but the two stitched together a 78-run partnership.
Saurashtra bowlers somewhat took their foot off the pedal, struggling with line and length to the tailenders. Karnewar, who is known for his ambidextrous bowling, showed his importance to the team with the bat. He struck eight boundaries and two maximums in his innings, scoring the bulk of runs.
Chetan Sakariya finally broke the partnership, as he dismissed Wakhare for 34. Yadav struck three crisp boundaries to take his team past 300 and reach a solid score.
Patel will certainly be the key on Day 3 if Saurashtra have to come back into this game.
Aditya SarwateAkshay KarnewarAkshay Wakhareranji trophyRanji Trophy 2018-19saurashtraSnell Patelvidarbha
First Published: February 4, 2019, 5:23 PM IST