It was day one of the new season of the Ranji Trophy on Monday and many senior Indian players, overall, put up a good show to kick into gear ahead of long red-ball domestic campaign.
Cheteshwar Pujara missed out on a spicy wicket in Dharamsala but Hanuma Vihari, barring his dismissal, barely put a foot wrong despite wickets falling around him. Mumbai duo Prithvi Shaw and Ajinkya Rahane had good outings too but missed out on getting hundreds.
Elsewhere Rex Singh from Manipur put up a monumental show, picking up eight wickets and then scoring an unbeaten fifty.
In Dindigul, Ashwin Ravichandran was frustrated by a robust batting display from young batsman Devdutt Padikkal, who showed excellent temperament in the mouth-watering clash between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Mayank Agarwal, however, missed out, after getting off to a good start.
Robin Uthappa scored a century on his first outing for new side Kerala.
Shaw and Rahane’s day out
Prithvi Shaw set the tone for Mumbai to get to a big score on day one in Vadodara after skipper Suryakumar Yadav decided to bat first. The young opener hit an array of boundaries to get to a blazing fifty in the first session, picking things up from where he’d left in the Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy. Looking good for a big score, Shaw was bowled through the gate by Abhimanyu Rajput to give Baroda their second wicket, as the opener was dismissed for a 62-ball 66.
India Test vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane steadied the Mumbai innings with a typically steely 79. However, the 41-time champions’ middle order came a cropper. In-form Surya fell for a duck and barring Shubham Ranjane, there weren’t any major contributions. Rahane fell to Yusuf Pathan’s part-time off-spin. But Shams Mulani and pacer Shardul Thakur’s 92-run stand for the eight wicket frustrated Krunal Pandya’s side as Mumbai walked out of the field after a good day’s work.
Mumbai 362/8 (A Rahane 79, P Shaw 66, S Thakur 64) vs Baroda.
The other side to Padikkal
Karnataka opener Devdutt Padikkal had a lot riding on him going into this clash against familiar foes Tamil Nadu in Dindigul. Walking in at No 3 after K Vignesh struck early, Padikkal, along with India opener Mayank Agarwal went about building Karnataka’s innings.
Taking a cue from Agarwal, Padikkal showed patience and grit to blunt Ashwin and Co to set a good platform for their side. Agarwal and Padikkal, though, missed out on getting to a big score, getting out for 43 and 78 respectively. Karnataka frustrated Tamil Nadu in the final session through Pavan Deshpande and Shreyas Gopal.
Karnataka 259/6 (D Padikkal 78, Pavan Deshpande 65, Mayank Agarwal 43; M Siddarth 2/33) vs Tamil Nadu.
Wickets tumble in Dharamsala
Cheteshwar Pujara’s return to Ranji Trophy ended on a whimper, but, to be fair on the India No 3 the pitch was not the easiest to bat on with 17 wickets falling on day one. Opting to bat first in Dharamsala was a decision that Himachal Pradesh would rue as Jaydev Unadkat and Co dismissed the opposition for just 120. Only opener Prashant Chopra showed a semblance of application in the middle, making 33.
Saurashtra didn’t find the going easy and after a collapse late in the day, it ended honours even for both sides. Pujara was dismissed for a 17-ball two. By the time senior batsman Sheldon Jackson was dismissed, Saurashtra were at a precarious 31/4. Snell Patel’s 42 steadied the ship but his side slumped to 93/7 as stumps were called because of bad light.
Himachal Pradesh 120 (Prashant Chopra 33; Prerak Mankad 3/13, Jaydev Unadkat 3/31) lead Saurashtra 93/7 (Snell Patel 42; Vaibhav Arora 3/20) by 27 runs.
Vihari a cut above the rest
A snake slithering through the picturesque ACA Stadium in Vijayawada was clearly not the most threatening sight for the Vidarbha bowlers. The reigning champions had the measure of the Andhra batsmen but Hanuma Vihari was a cut above the rest. Having missed out during India’s home Test season, Vihari oozed confidence in attack on his return to domestic cricket and put the bowlers to the sword.
Like some of his India colleagues elsewhere, the 27-year-old looked certain to get to a three-figure score, only for him to chase after a wide delivery from pacer Rajneesh Gurbani. Vihari ended up nicking it to the ‘keeper and after that, Andhra’s innings didn’t last long. Gurbani, who was getting movement both ways, picked up three wickets while Aditya Sarwate ended up with four to his name.
Meanwhile, Veteran opener Wasim Jaffer became the first player in Indian cricket to feature in 150 Ranji matches. The 41-year-old has played 253 first-class games, scoring 19,147 runs at an average of 51.19. He has scored 57 hundreds and 88 fifties with 314 being his highest score.
Andhra 211 (H Vihari 83, KS Bharat 22; A Sarwate 4/50, R Gurbani 3/72) lead Vidarbha 26/0 (S Raghunath 14*) by 185 runs.
Rex stars again
Manipur’s left-arm pacer Rex Singh is best known for being among the most talked about Indian domestic cricketers in the previous season on social media. Singh’s fluent action, impeccable lengths combined with generating prodigious swing saw his ten-for in Cooch Behar Trophy being talked about on the internet.
Singh wasted no time to make people sit up and take notice in the Ranji Trophy on Monday. He finished with stunning figures of 8/22 to dismiss Mizoram for just 65. The wickets were almost a carbon copy of his now famous spell. Singh’s day would get even better as a fighting half-century (he is batting on 58) saw Manipur race to a handsome lead of 190 at Stumps.
Manipur 255/7 (Chingangbam Singh 89, Rex Singh 58*; Bobby Zothansanga 4/75) lead Mizoram 65 (Taruwar Kohli 34; Rex Singh 8/22) by 190 runs.
Uthappa slams ton
Delhi coach KP Bhaskar’s ploy of using four-pronged spin attack backfired badly as Kerala comfortably reached 276/3 riding on a patient hundred from Robin Uthappa in Thumba.
Uthappa scored 102 off 221 balls with seven fours and three sixes, adding 118 runs for the second wicket with opener Ponnam Rahul (97). Rahul missed his ton by three runs but Uthappa completed his 22nd hundred before being dismissed in the final over of the day by comeback-man Pradeep Sangwan (1/31). In the process, he also added 90 runs for the third wicket with skipper Sachin Baby (36*).
On a slow track, called correctly and his decision to bat was vindicated by the top-order, also aided by poor team selection from the Delhi team management.
Kerala 276/3 (Robin Uthappa 102, Ponnam Rahul 97; Pradeep Sangwan 1/31) vs Delhi
Railways 244/8 (Dinesh Mor 89*, Navneet Virk 58; Yash Dayal 3/47) vs Uttar Pradesh.
Haryana 279/3 (Shivam Chauhan 117, Shubham Rohilla 117*; SM Fallah 1/42) vs Maharashtra.
Tripura 263/8 (Milind Kumar 59; Ashish Kumar 2/32) vs Jharkhand.
Services 124 (VS Hathwala 34; AK Das 4/39) lead Assam 81/3 (G Sharma 32; DG Pathania 2/21) by 43 runs.
Jammu and Kashmir 182 (SP Khajuria 47; RS Shah 3/18) lead Uttarakhand 64/7 (TM Srivastava 17; M Mudhasir 3/11) by 118 runs.
Chhattisgarh 134 (AJ Mandal 47; Rajesh Mohanty 6/47) lead Odisha 48/3 (SP Senapati 16; PM Datey 2/5) by 86 runs.
Arunachal Pradesh 147 (T Neri 45; S Nirmohi 5/26) vs Chandigarh 236/1 (Arslan Khan 119, S Bhambri 105; A Sahani 1/80)
Sikkim 136 (Le Yong Lepcha 56; LA Garg 3/23) vs Goa 124/3 (SK Patel 53; Aqbal Abdulla 1/17)
Bihar 173 (SS Rathour 31; SP Udeshi 6/50) vs Puducherry 62/0 (S Anand 39*)
Meghalaya 268/9 (P Bisht 125; I Lemtur 7/48).