Dhruv Singh hat-trick gives Haryana edge
Haryana seamer Dhruv Singh took a hat-trick to rock table-toppers Uttar Pradesh on the first day at the Mohan Meakins Cricket Stadium in Ghaziabad. Allrounder Sachin Rana finished the job, taking four wickets as the fourth-place side in Group B bowled UP out for 167. Haryana had picked up two early wickets and just when opener Shivakant Shukla and UP captain Mohammad Kaif were looking to rebuild, Dhruv trapped Shukla in front and then removed Parvinder Singh and Ashish Yadav off the next two balls. Rana bowled Kaif soon after and UP were tottering on 58 for 6. Legspinner Piyush Chawla staged a rear-guard action with his 49, but UP couldn't cross the 200-run mark. Haryana openers Nitin Saini and Rahul Dewan compounded UP's woes with their unbeaten 84-run stand.
Left-arm seamer Mohinderraj Sharma took his first five-wicket haul of the season to help Himachal Pradesh bowl Karnataka out for 254 on the first day of their match in Dharmasala. It could have been worse for Karnataka after they were reduced to 46 for 5, but allrounder Stuart Binny's maiden first-class century and Amit Verma's 79 ensured they reached a respectable total. The visitors made the worst possible start when they lost opener KB Pawan in the first over of the morning. Mohinderraj then struck two quick blows before the two big wickets fell. Robin Uthappa was out caught behind to Himachal's leading wicket-taker seamer Rakesh Dhawan and then Karnataka's leading run-getter this season Manish Pandey became Mohinderraj's third victim. Binny and Verma put on 155 for the sixth wicket to save Karnataka's blushes. Himachal's openers played out one over at the end of the day to end at 1 for 0. Himachal are looking for their first victory of the season while Karnataka have a chance to go top of the Group B table as they are just two points off table-toppers Uttar Pradesh.
Punjab made some headway in erasing the recent memory of their fourth-round innings defeat to Baroda, reaching 277 for 3 at the end of the first day in their match against Orissa at the East Coast Railway Sports Association in Bhubaneswar. Opener Sarul Kanwar got his second first-class century and overtook the missing Yuvraj Singh as Punjab's leading run-getter this season. The tie was a crucial one for both sides as they are last and second-last in the Group B table. Orissa were under added pressure as they had a new captain, seamer Debasis Mohanty, after they dropped former skipper Shiv Sunder Das. Debasis, who has played 45 ODIs for India, went wicketless in his 19 overs as all Punjab's batsmen managed starts. Uday Kaul ended the day unbeaten on 55 while Punjab captain Pankaj Dharmani was batting on 35.
Sourav Ganguly's much awaited return to Ranji action was put on hold as the first day of Tamil Nadu's match against Bengal at the India Cement Limited Guru Nanak College Ground in Chennai was completely washed out. Bengal will be hoping Ganguly's presence can lift them fom their mid-table status. Tamil Nadu will be relying on Abhinav Mukund and Subramaniam Badrinath, who are both amongst the top three run-getters in the Super League this season, to help them catch up with Mumbai at the top of the Group A table.
Mumbai got off to their best start of the season in Valsad, and carried on the momentum to reach 282 for 2 on the opening day against Gujarat. Sahil Kukreja made his fourth half-century in as many innings, and put on 166 upfront with wicketkeeper Omkar Gurav after Mumbai chose to bat. Gujarat, who used as many as eight bowlers, went wicketless in the morning session, and almost did so in the post-lunch session, till Kukreja fell to fast bowler Ishwar Choudhary for 81 in the 54th over. Eight overs later, Gurav was dismissed by Rajasthan Royals seamer Siddharth Trivedi. Those were the only breakthroughs Gujarat managed, as Ajinkya Rahane and Wasim Jaffer eased to an unbeaten 99-run partnership. While Rahane was unbeaten on 54, Jaffer was four short of his half-century. With Rohit Sharma and Abhishek Nayar yet to bat, Mumbai are looking set for a huge score, unless Gujarat can trigger a collapse tomorrow.
Delhi captain Mithun Manhas led a rescue effort as his side ended the opening day on 332 for 5 against Assam at the Roshanara Club Ground. Manhas was unbeaten on 100, his 17th first-class century, and was involved in an unbroken 145-run sixth-wicket partnership with Mayank Tehlan, who made 61 in his first match of the season.
Delhi had lost Shikhar Dhawan in the fifth over to fast bowler Abu Nechim after being inserted by Assam on a wicket that assisted the bowlers. That didn't deter Unmukt Chand and Aditya Jain, who added 103 runs, hitting busy half-centuries. Assam removed both batsmen after lunch, and then medium-pacer Dhiraj Goswami took two wickets in two balls as Delhi slid to 187 for 5. Manhas, who then launched the recovery in the company of Tehlan, felt that it was a challenge to score on this wicket. "I would have also fielded on this kind of a track. There are some ridges from where the ball is suddenly taking off," he told PTI. "We will be eyeing an outright win but then we have to start from scratch tomorrow."
Railways opener Faiz Fazal gave them a solid start with his century but Saurashtra got themselves back in the game at the end of the day with two quick wickets at the Khandheri Cricket Stadium in Rajkot. Railways still have the edge, having finished on 233 for 4 with allrounder Sanjay Bangar, who has played 12 Tests for India, still batting on 79. Saurashtra fast bowler Jaidev Unadkat, who will be part of India's Test squad when they go to South Africa later this month, struck early, removing V Cheluvaraj, but had to wait 71 overs for his next wicket as Fazal and Bangar made steady progress. In the absence of their leading spinner Ravindra Jadeja, who is in the India squad for the series against New Zealand, left-arm spinner Rakesh Dhurv and offspinner Kamlesh Makvana bowled 51 overs between them, with Makvana picking up two wickets. Saurashtra and Railways are both rooted to the bottom of the Group A table with three points.