Andhra secured the first-innings lead against Saurashtra riding on left-arm spinner Lalith Mohan’s five-wicket haul (22-3-71-5) on Day 3 of their Ranji Trophy sixth-round clash at the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Rajkot on Thursday.
Andhra captain Hanuma Vihari did not enforce the follow-on. However, quick runs from Karan Shinde (50 not out) helped Andhra (164/7) set a 343-run target minutes before the close of play. Lalith sprang back to action and dismissed the home team’s opener Harvik Desai for a three-ball duck in the first over. Chirag Jani and nightwatchman Chetan Sakariya safely negotiated the next over as Saurashtra finished on 10 for one, 333 short of a win at stumps.
An uncharacteristic first-innings batting display from Saurashtra in the morning session saw the host side lose seven wickets and fold for 237, conceding a 178-run lead. Overnight batter Sheldon Jackson (68) fell in the second over to left-arm quick Prithvi Raj Yarra. Arpit Vasavada, who had built a 73-run stand with Jackson, followed suit as Lalith prompted the left-hander to glide a length ball to Vihari at leg slip. While No. 6 Samarth Vyas hoped to restore balance, Lalith and off-spinner Shoaib Khan ran through the lower order. Lalith removed skipper Jaydev Unadkat and Sakariya within three deliveries before Shoaib got Samarth stumped on 51.
Vihari had a tricky choice to make at Lunch. He initially chose to give his bowlers time to put their feet up but then wanted to retract his call and enforce the follow-on in an attempt to “go for the extra point”. However, the umpires lawfully did not yield to his request.
Vihari’s instinctive call, in hindsight, has ensured that all results are possible on Friday.