Maharashtra opener Swapnil Gugale hit a century as the hosts powered their way to 298/3 against Mumbai on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy game in Pune on Thursday, PTI reported.

Put in to bat at the MCA International Stadium on the outskirts of the city, Gugale (101) and his opening partner Chirag Khurana (71) laid a solid foundation with a 146-run stand. The two batsmen, with their effective stroke play, made life difficult for Mumbai bowlers, who missed the experience of key pacers Dhawal Kulkarni and Tushar Deshpande, both out with injuries.

The 27-year-old Gugale hit 15 fours in his 191-ball knock, while Khurana notched 12 in his 106-ball stay at the wicket. After Khurana fell, one down Jay Pande (68 not out) joined Gugale as the two shared a 52-run stand.

But soon after completing his fourth first class century, Pune-born Gugale was cleaned up by right-arm medium pacer Shubham Ranjane (2/30). Skipper Rahul Tripathi (25 not out) was holding the fort with Pande at stumps.

Meanwhile at Vadodara, Baroda bowled out Chhattisgarh for a paltry 129 and then overhauled the total to be 36 ahead by close. At Rajkot, Saurashtra skipper Jaydev Shah, who is playing his last match, led from the front, scoring a valiant 97 as the hosts managed to post 288 for 9 against Karnataka.

At Valsad, Piyush Chawla slammed an unbeaten century to take hosts Gujarat to 340/8 against Railways. Gujarat skipper Priyank Panchal also proved his mettle by scoring a valuable 69.

Brief scores: Maharashtra 298/3 (Swapnil Gugale 101, Chirag Khurana 71; Shubham Ranjane 2/30) vs Mumbai.

Bhui saves Andhra with century

Ricky Bhui lifted the sagging spirits with an impressive counter-attacking 150 in Andhra’s 266/7 as Delhi failed to drive home the advantage despite Subodh Bhati’s first-ever five-wicket haul in New Delhi.

Bhui’s seventh first-class hundred was scored in critical circumstances after Andhra were reeling at 48 for 4 as medium pacer Bhati (5/35 in 21 overs) made a successful comeback in longer format during Gautam Gambhir’s farewell match.

The good work done by Bhati was undone by his seam bowling partner Simarjeet Singh (0/78 in 16 overs) as he sprayed all around with Bhui launching into him with a string of boundaries on both sides of the wicket.

The former India U-19 captain hit 19 boundaries and a six in 225 balls as Andhra’s middle and lower-middle order comprising P Girinath Reddy (29), B Shiva Charan Singh (27) and out-of-favour India leg-spinner Karn Sharma (31) provided stiff resistance.

Bhui added 74 for the fifth wicket with Girinath, followed by another 66 with Shiva Charan and subsequently 77 for the seventh wicket with Karn. Save Bhati, who bowled the perfect length over after over, the inexperienced attack didn’t look menacing as Bhui played shots all round the wicket once he got set.

Debutant left-arm spinner Shivank Vashist (0/58 in 16 overs) was below par and could hardly trouble the batsmen. Senior spinner Vikas Mishra (1/49 in 22 overs) was also flat and one dimensional, which increased the workload on Bhati.

“Yes, there was a lot of anger in me as to why I wasn’t being tried in longer format. I had a point to prove and I am glad that I did it,” an elated Bhati told reporters after the end of the day’s play.

“My strength is to pitch it on right area and wait for the batsmen to make mistakes. I did just that and it paid off. If I would think about conditions and how the pitch would behave, I won’t be able to deliver,” said the lanky medium pacer, who is a regular feature in Delhi’s shorter format assignments, having picked 36 List A and 22 T20 wickets.

Bhati did agree that Delhi frittered away the advantage. “I would give credit to their centurion (Bhui). Even though we bowled well, he was batting brilliantly,” he said. Bhui, on his part, said that there were no demons on the wicket and the top order should have batted more responsibly.

“There wasn’t much turn on offer and the wicket was good to bat on. My natural game is attacking one and I stuck to that. I believe some of the top order batsmen didn’t play responsibly,” Bhui said. On a different note, Gautam Gambhir had a quite day fielding mainly in the slip cordon for spinners and mid-on for the pacers. There was a professional artist hired for painting the live proceedings of Gambhir’s last match.

Brief Scores: Andhra 266/7 (Ricky Bhui 150*, Karn Sharma 31, Subodh Bhati 5/35 in 21 overs).

Rajasthan run through Assam

Rajasthan bowlers, led by left-arm medium pacer Aniket Choudhary, skittled out Assam for 108 on the opening day. At stumps, Rajasthan skipper Mahipal Lomror remained unbeaten on 77 in the company of Robin Bist (48 not out) as the hosts overhauled the visitors total and were ahead by 45 runs. Rajasthan ended the opening day at 153 for 2.

Put into bat, the Assam innings folded up at 108 in just 28.1 overs with Chaudhary (5/38) leading the destruction. Among his victims were Assam openers Rishav Das (3) and Parvez Aziz (0). Chaudhary was ably supported by another pacer Nathu Singh (3/33).

For Assam, no 9 Arup Das (36*) and number 10 Ranjit Mali (28) played handy knocks to ensure the side passed the 100-run mark after Assam tottered at 47/8. Das hit four boundaries and two sixes in his 20-ball breezy knock. In reply, Rajasthan lost openers Amitkumar Gautam (12) and Chetan Bist (10) cheaply, but the innings was resurrected by Lormor and Bist.

Meanwhile, at Jammu, Uttar Pradesh bowled out Jammu and Kashmir for 290 as slow left-arm orthodox bowler Saurabh Kumar picked up 6 wickets.

But J and K hit back to leave UP reeling at 31/3 in reply by close. At Agartala, Rahul Dagar hit a hundred as Haryana ended the day at 258/7 against Tripura. At Ranchi, Odisha bowled out Jharkhand for 172, but pacer Varun Aaron led a fight back by picking up two wickets as Odisha were left in a difficult spot at 27/3, still adrift by 145 runs.

Deadly Dogra

Left-arm spinner Ashutosh Aman foxed the lower order with a four-wicket haul as Bihar shot out Arunachal Pradesh for 84. In reply, opener Indrajit Kumar’s unbeaten 127 helped Bihar take a 166-run lead at stumps on the first day.

Electing to bowl, Bihar medium pacers Vivek Kumar (3/26) and Rehan Khan (2/17) gave early breakthroughs before Ashutosh ran through the lower order at the Moin-ul-Haq Stadium.

Only two of Arunachal Pradesh batsmen, opener Techi Doria (33) and Neelam Obi (21) could get to double digits as the visitors folded their first innings in 39.5 overs.

At the Krishnagiri Stadium in Wayanad, veteran Paras Dogra slammed a career-best 253 off just 244 balls to propel Puducherry to 418/4 after Sikkim opted to bowl.

The 34-year-old slammed 30 fours and seven sixes in his innings. He got support from Vikneshwaran Marimuthu (78) and Damodaren Rohit (59). In Dimapur, debutant Mayank Raghav struck an unbeaten century to put Manipur in a commanding positon against hosts Nagaland, who were bundled out for 126.

Raghav’s unbeaten 109 took Manipur to 173/3 for a 47-run first innings lead. Earlier, Manipur medium pacers led by Kabrambam Meitei (3/46) rattled the Nagaland top order to reduce them to 15/4 inside eight overs.

There was no resistance from the Nagaland batsmen with Priyojit Singh (3/20) and Thokchom Singh (3/32) also claiming three apiece to bowl them out in the post-lunch session. In reply, Manipur lost opener Prafullomani Singh off the first ball to Suyal but Lakhan Rawat and Raghav added 68 runs for the first wicket.

After Rawat’s dismissal, Raghav put on 73 runs for the third wicket with skipper Yashpal Singh (35) to give them the lead.