Teams often fall into the trap they set for others. Railways know that well. Seven seasons ago, they had given a track described as akhara by Sehwag & Co, for Delhi in a key Ranji tie.
Railways had to avoid relegation. But it backfired as none except JP Yadav could stand up to the challenge with the bat. They lost and were relegated to the plate division later in the season.
Saurashtra were dismissed by the hosts’ dibbly-dobbly bowlers for just 175. At the end of the day’s play, however, Ravindra Jadeja, smacking his lips and tweaking the ball well, helped himself to a six-wicket haul as the hosts were reduced to 71 for eight.
It will require a Herculean effort from the hosts to recover but the decision, in the hope of an outright result, helped give Saurashtra a chance to enter the next round.
It was a difficult wicket to bat on and no one could stay there for long. For the Railways, had it not been for Mahesh Rawat’s attacking strokeplay (30 no) things would have been worse.
As Saurashtra made it back to the field after their innings, their coach Debu Mitra cut a forlorn figure. He was annoyed with the wicket. “I have never seen a worse wicket than this in my 40 years of Ranji cricket. It is really bad,” said the coach, who has been with Saurashtra for eight years and had helped them progress to the Elite division.
Before the start, Mitra had guessed the game wouldn’t last for more than 2 and half days. He is on course to being proven right. Saurashtra may lodge a complaint over the pitch.
Saurashtra 175 (S Jackson 39, A Yadav 4-35) Railways 71 for 8 (M Rawat 31, R Jadeja 6-22)