RP Singh's triple strike helps Gujarat seize control
RP Singh dismissed the dangerous-looking Ishan Kishan late in the day to swing the balance of the second semi-final clash between Gujarat and Jharkhand in the former's favour on Day Two at the Vidarbha Cricket Association Stadium in Nagpur.
Resuming the day on 283 for 3, Gujarat's lower-middle order failed to take advantage of a strong start and lost wickets at regular intervals on Monday (January 2). Priyank Panchal, who was unbeaten on 144 overnight, added only five runs to his tally before being snared by Ajay Yadav.
Soon after, Yadav took his second wicket of the day when he had Manpreet Juneja, the other overnight batsmen, caught by Pratyush Singh on 22. The double blow reduced Gujarat to 299 for 5 within the first half an hour of play.
Rujul Bhatt and Chirag Gandhi added some valuable runs, but two more wickets in quick succession had them reeling again. While Gandhi became Yadav's third victim, Rush Kalaria followed him back to the pavilion five balls later, trapped legbefore by Shahbaz Nadeem.
RP Singh, who joined Bhatt in the middle, hit some lusty blows - five boundaries and a six - to add 40 crucial runs lower down the order and put on 62 runs for the eighth wicket with Bhatt. However, Rahul Shukla, in a space of eight balls, dismissed the last three batsmen and bowled out Gujarat for 390.
In reply, Jharkhand got off to a shaky start, losing opener Sumit Kumar to RP Singh in the first over of the innings. Pratyush Singh and Virat Singh combined to consolidate the innings and added 45 runs stand for the second wicket, before RP Singh had the measure of Pratyush and had him caught for 27.
Even as Jharkhand had good partnerships going, they kept losing wickets regularly. Virat Singh (34) and Saurabh Tiwary (39) too got off to good starts, but gave their wickets away in the 30s. At 121 for 4, Gujarat seemed to be in control, but there were still two in-form batsmen in the middle.
Ishank Jaggi and Kishan combined to attack the Gujarat bowlers and wrestle the initiative. Kishan, in particular, meted out a severe treatment as he struck nine boundaries and three sixes to dominate the bowlers. Together, they added 92 runs in only 106 balls, with Kishan scoring 61 of those runs in only 59 balls. However, his innings came to an end when RP Singh had him caught by Jasprit Bumrah.
Jharkhand went to Stumps on 214 for 5, trailing Gujarat by 176 runs. Given the nature of the pitch, the difference in the first innings score will prove to be a massive difference as batting is expected to get tougher with each passing day. Jaggi holds the key for Jharkhand, who don't have the deepest of the batting order. If Gujarat manage to take a lead in excess of 50, they will be far ahead in the game.
Brief Scores: Gujarat 390 (Priyank Panchal 149, Parthiv Patel 62; Ajay Yadav 3-67, Rahul Shukla 3-71) lead Jharkhand 214/5 (Ishan Kishan 61, Ishank Jaggi 40*; RP Singh 3-48) by 176 runs