In-form Aparajith hits another century
Tamil Nadu 220 for 3 (Aparajith 109*, Badrinath 81) v Services
After a dismal 2012-13 season, Tamil Nadu began the season confidently with a century from the in-form B Aparajith and a big contribution from perennial run-scorer S Badrinath against Services in Delhi.
Services were the fairytale team of the previous season, and began strongly, dismissing the established opening pair of Abhinav Mukund and M Vijay cheaply. However, Aparajith and Badrinath then put on 168 for the third wicket to put Tamil Nadu in a position of strength. Badrinath missed out on his century, bowled by medium-pacer Shadab Nazar for 81, but Aparajith went on to make his third first-class century in four matches.
Aparajith had a stellar Duleep Trophy, scoring 212 against West Zone and 109 against Central Zone. He has now converted four of his five 50-plus scores into hundreds. With another prolific domestic scorer, Dinesh Karthik, keeping Aparajith company, Services' bowlers could have Monday-morning blues tomorrow.
Madhya Pradesh 282 for 3 (Choudhary 127*, Mishra 97) v Railways
It was a similar tale of batsmen dominating in Indore, where Madhya Pradesh opener Satyam Choudhary struck the first century of the Ranji season. The bigger story though was the 97 hit by Mohnish Mishra, who was returning from a one-year ban for bringing the game into disrepute through "loose talk and unsubstantiated bragging". Mishra was one of the five players suspended by the BCCI after a sting operation by India TV into corruption in cricket.
While it was a solid return for Mishra, he couldn't get the satisfaction of completing a century in his comeback match, as he was caught-behind three short of his sixth first-class hundred. It was a perfect day for the 22-year-old Choudhary, though, who had a horrid run last season, when he could only muster 217 runs in 11 innings at an average of 19.72. He ended the day unbeaten on 127, and dreaming of overtaking his entire previous season haul in a single innings.
Saurashtra 226 for 2 (Jogiyani 114*, Kotak 65) v Rajasthan
Rajasthan got the prized wicket of Cheteshwar Pujara early but had precious little else to celebrate as Saurashtra's batsmen enjoyed themselves yet again in Rajkot. Shitanshu Kotak in his final first-class match of a two-decade career, produced another of his slow-and-steady innings, making 65, while his opening partner Sagar Jogiyani went on to make a century.
Kotak and Jogiyani put on 136 for the first wicket at a rate of little above two an over as Rajasthan's bowlers were made to toil after Saurashtra won the toss and unsurprisingly chose to bat. In his 65th first-class match, Jogiyani completed his fifth century to ensure Saurashtra weren't too badly affected by the loss of Pujara for a low score. One thing Railways will be happy about is that the man who hit a triple-century against them last season, Ravindra Jadeja, is tied up on national duties.
There was no play in the match between Bengal and Baroda due to heavy rains.