Rathour, Mongia humble Himachal bowlers
Vikram Rathour and Dinesh Mongia started off North Zone's Ranji season with a bang, dominating the Himachal Pradesh bowlers completely in their tie at the PCA stadium in Mohali.
Varinder Sharma, the Himachal Pradesh captain, won the toss and, oddly enough considering Mohali's reputation as a batting-friendly wicket, opted to field. His gamble seemed to have paid off when Ravneet Ricky, Munish Sharma and freshly returned Yuvraj Singh were dismissed with only 18 on the board.
That, however, was when Himachal Pradesh ran out of luck for virtually the rest of the day. Rathour and Mongia put on 269 runs in just 273 minutes, selecting Rahul Panta and debutante Ashok Thakur for specific punishment. Rathour, who made 126 off 214 balls, finally perished to Raja Ali with the score on 287.
Mongia, continuing his fine form from the Irani Trophy, had notched up 178 off 263 balls (21 fours, two sixes) by the end of the day, promising yet more torture for the Himachal Pradesh bowlers on Day Two. Pankaj Dharmani was also unbeaten on nine at the close of play, with Punjab at 330/4.