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Jackson, Vasavada put Saurashtra in strong position vs Rajasthan

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Jaipur, Feb 11 (PTI) Saurashtra's first-innings centurion Sheldon Jackson came to the team's rescue once again, steadying the side with a solid 100-run unbeaten partnership with Arpit Vasavada as the defending champions took a healthy 245-run lead against Rajasthan in a Ranji Trophy Group A match here on Sunday.

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Rajasthan, after putting up a gritty show by scoring 257 all out in reply to Saurashtra's first-innings total of 328, had Jaydev Unadkat's team reeling at 74/4.

But Jackson (48 not out) and Vasavada (53 not out) did not give Rajasthan bowlers any more reasons to celebrate on day three of the match, taking Saurashtra to 174/4 with a century stand to put the visitors in command.

Rajasthan, beginning the day placed precariously at 159 for six, did well to add 98 runs to their overnight total as their innings folded up for 257, conceding a 71-run first-innings lead.

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Spinner Dharmendrasinh Jadeja caused the maximum damage, claiming his 18th five-wicket haul (5/99) to restrict the hosts.

Soon, the home team bowlers had Saurashtra on the mat with left-arm spinner Kukna Ajay Singh giving Rajasthan early success by taking the wickets of India batter Cheteshwar Pujara (25) and opener Harvik Desai (9).

Pujara, the first-innings centurion, departed with Singh trapping him plumb in front of the wicket, dealing a huge blow to Saurashtra's batting, which was already reeling after the early dismissals of Desai and Vishvaraj Jadeja (3).

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But domestic stalwart Jackson, who is approaching the 7,000-run mark in first-class cricket, displayed ample caution to score an unbeaten 48 off 81 deliveries. Giving him company in the middle was Vasavada, who too displayed composure for his unbeaten half-ton as Saurashtra put themselves in a strong position going into the final day.

Vidarbha dominate Maharashtra =================== In Pune, Vidarbha took complete control of the match after first piling up a mammoth 552 in their first innings on Sunday and then reducing Maharashtra to 187 for 3 in their second innings.

Maharashtra had made just 208 runs in their first innings. They need to score 157 runs more to make Vidarbha bat again.

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Vidarbha, commencing at their overnight score of 439/6, saw India batter Karun Nair add just one run to his overnight 128 before he was bowled by pacer Pradeep Dadhe. But Harsh Dubey (46) carried the team to the brink of the 500-run mark before tail-ender Aditya Thakare's unbeaten 39 carried Vidarbha beyond the 550-run mark.

Maharashtra batters showed a lot more determination in the second innings with Murtaza Trunkwala (86) and Digvijay Patil (61 not out) scoring half-centuries. But the sheer number of runs scored by Vidarbha has made it an uphill task for Maharashtra.

Brief Scores: In Jaipur: Saurashtra 328 and 174/4 in 57 overs (Sheldon Jackson 48 not out, Arpit Vasavada 53 not out; K Ajay Singh 2/69) vs Rajasthan 257 in 91.2 overs (Deepak Hooda 36, Kukna Ajay Singh 44; Dharmendrasinh Jadeja 5/99, Yuvrajsinh Dodiya 4/88).

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In Pune: Maharashtra 208 and 187/3 in 59 overs (Murtaza Trunkwala 86, Digvijay Patil 61 not out) vs Vidarbha 552 in 126.2 overs (Dhruv Shorey 92, Karun Nair 129, Akshay Wadkar 90, Harsh Dubey 46; Hitesh Walunj 4/127).

In Jamshedpur: Haryana 509 beat Jharkhand 119 in 39.3 overs (Jayant Yadav 5/35, Sumit Kumar 3/9) and 185 in 61.4 overs (Utkarsh Singh 53, Kumar Suraj 44; Jayant Yadav 5/55, Nishant Sindhu 3/39) by an innings and 205 runs.

In Ahmedabad: Manipur 67 and 70 in 40.3 overs (Varun Choudhary 3/29, Arjun Sharma 3/11, Pulkit Narang 2/2) lost to Services 333 by an innings and 196 runs. PTI AM AM AH AH

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