Jackson 160, Vasavada 112* deflate Karnataka

Saurashtra 364 for 4 (Jackson 160, Vasavada 112*, Kaverappa 2-64) trail Karnataka 407 (Agarwal 249, Sakariya 3-73) by 43 runs

A fourth-wicket partnership of 232 between centurions Sheldon Jackson (160) and captain Arpit Vasavada (112*) spearheaded Saurashtra’s charge in their Ranji Trophy semi-final against Karnataka in Bengaluru.

After scoring 407, achieved mainly due to Mayank Agarwal’s marathon 248, Karnataka had Saurashtra wobbling at 92 for 3 half hour into play on the third day. Then, they ran into Jackson and Vasavada, who battled for a better part of the day to run them ragged. Saurashtra ended day three on 364 for 4, trailing by just 43 runs.

Vasavada has Chirag Jani (19*) for company in their quest to take the lead. With just two days remaining, Saurashtra will fancy their chances of entering their second final in three seasons given they bat till No. 10. The pitch hasn’t deteriorated as much as Karnataka’s bowlers would’ve liked, and the swing and seam movement that was on offer for much of the first day has given way to easier batting conditions since.

Harvik Desai fell in the fifth over of play when he was struck plumb in front by V Koushik for 33. That was the only bit of joy for Karnataka in the first two sessions as Jackson counterattacked at every available opportunity. At the other end, Vasavada, who was hit on the helmet on nought and then had to be cleared for concussion, took his time to get his eye in before opening up to play some wonderful shots, especially against spin.

Particularly impressive was his ability to step out and hit against the turn off Gowtham. Jackson fell for 160 with an hour to go for stumps when he played back to a sharp-turner from Gowtham that kept low to strike him in front of middle.

By then, he’d defied Karnataka’s attack, scoreboard pressure, serious sledging, a bump-catch appeal that the hosts celebrated and some cramps on a moderately hot day to put Saurashtra in a commanding position.

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