Saurashtra left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat returned with a six-wicket haul after a stellar effort with the bat but Assam still managed to secure a small yet crucial first-innings lead on the third day of their Ranji Trophy Group B cricket fixture at the Eden Gardens.
On a pitch with little assistance, Unadkat bowled with pace and accuracy, and struck twice in successive overs en-route to his season’s best 6/48. However that did not prove to be enough as Assam rode on skipper KB Arun Karthik’s patient 57 to get an 18-run first innings lead, which could be enough for the bottom-rung side to earn three points.
In reply, Saurashtra were zero for one after two overs when bad light stopped play with Arup Das, who had a seven-for in the first innings, cleaning up Avi Barot in the first over with a ball that stayed low.
Earlier, Unadkat batting at no. 9 remained unbeaten on 46 in his innings spanning two hours and 25 minutes over two days in a crucial 46 last wicket partnership with Shaurya Sanandia (25) to take Saurashtra to 153 from an overnight 121/9.
The last season’s runners-up were reduced to 39/6 and then 69/8 yesterday but the lower order showed some resistance to avoid the blushes.
Unadkat was the top-scorer in Saurashtra’s pathetic batting show and he hit three boundaries and two sixes during his knock from 68 balls as the last pair went about the task easily with Assam struggling to break the partnership.
“It was not a proper greentop. If the batsmen would have survived one or two spells of their fast bowling, it would have been a high scoring game. It was a matter of playing out one or two good spells but our batsmen did not succeed,” Unadkat said.
In reply, Assam lost their first wicket for one when Sanandia gave the breakthrough dismissing Rishav Das (1) cheaply.
Having started with the new ball, Unadkat bowled pace and accuracy and beat outside edge a few times in his first over but the success eluded him till 13th over when he had Rahul Hazarika (12) with Amitoze Singh taking a beautiful diving catch to his right at gully.
In his next over, he accounted for Sibsankar Roy (9) when he had a leading edge to be caught at midoff by skipper Jaydev Shah as he had a marathon nine over spell that had five maidens and two wickets for 11.
But it was Assam skipper Karthik who showed some resistance and stitched two important partnerships with Amit Verma (28) and Swarupam Purkayastha (17) that gave them the lead.
Karthik however got out to a rash shot playing across the line as Chirag Jani (1/18) gave the breakthrough before Unadkat and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja (2/13) bundled them out in 2.4 overs.
Saurashtra were yet to open their account but Assam had already sneaked in a wicket with Arup using the new ball and wind to perfection from the club house end.
Unadkat later acknowledged that the wind was helping from the club house end to get inswing movement.
“There’s a bit of help from the new ball but once it gets softer it becomes easier. The wind was helping.”
Saurashtra: 153 in 52.4 overs (Jaydev Unadkat 46 not out) & 0/1 in 2 overs.
Assam 1st innings: 171 in 62.3 overs (KB Arun Karthik 47; Unadkat 6/42).