A blistering century from the in-form Sarfaraz Khan and a sensational four-for by pacer Mukesh Kumar put the Rest of India in the driver's seat against the hosts and defending champions Saurashtra on the first day of the Irani Cup 2022 at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, here on Saturday.
Rest of India were 205-3 in their innings, leading by 107 runs at stumps on Day 1 after bowling out Saurashtra for just 98 in the first innings.
After winning the toss and opting to bowl first, pacer Mukesh Kumar set the tone with the ball for Rest of India by dismissing Harvik Desai and Chirag Jani for ducks off consecutive balls in the third over of the morning.
Saurashtra got another jolt as Cheteshwar Pujara was out caught in the next over from Kuldeep Sen. They further slipped to 5/4 Snell Patel, nicked behind to give Mukesh his third wicket.
Arpit Vasavada did a brief counter-attack getting to 22 off 19 before he was bowled by Umran Malik. It was followed by Mukesh getting the other big middle-order mainstay in Sheldon Jackson for just 2.
There were some contributions from skipper Jaydev Unadkat and Dharmendrasinh Jadeja lower down the order but Umran Malik and Kuldeep Sen picked up three each to end Saurashtra's innings on a paltry total.
In reply, Rest of India were also put in a spot of bother by the left-arm opening pair of Unadkat and Chetan Sakariya. The duo got rid of the top three (18/3) inside five overs to raise the hopes of the hosts. However, Sarfaraz and skipper Hanuma Vihari with their contrasting knocks stitched a solid unbeaten stand for the fourth wicket.
Vihari ground it out at one end with a 145-ball vigil for his 62. But at the other end, Sarfaraz blazed away to a nearly run-a-ball 125, out of which 88 came in just boundaries. Their unbeaten 187-run stand ensured that Rest of India did not waste the advantage given by their bowlers.
Brief scores: Saurashtra 98 all out (D. Jadeja 28; Mukesh Kumar 4-23, Kuldeep Sen 3-41, Umran Malik 3-25) trail Rest of India 205/3 (Sarfaraz Khan 125 not out, Hanuma Vihari 62 not out) by 107 runs
( 389 Words)