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Samson 129* steers Kerala out of trouble

File photo - Sanju Samson's unbeaten 129 included 19 fours and a six Ranjith Peralam

Group C

Sanju Samson started the Ranji Trophy season with a bang, scoring an unbeaten hundred to steer Kerala to 263 for 7 against Jammu & Kashmir in Kalyani. Walking in at 9 for 2, Samson steered Kerala out of trouble, putting on 97 for the third wicket with Jalaj Saxena, Kerala's new signing from Madhya Pradesh, who scored 69 (88b, 11x4, 1x6). Wickets fell frequently thereafter, but Samson kept one end going to end the day batting on 129. He hit 19 fours and a six in his 251-ball innings. Medium-pacer Samiullah Beigh was J&K's most successful bowler, ending the day with figures of 4 for 68.

Centuries from Prashant Chopra and Sumeet Verma dragged Himachal Pradesh out of a tricky situation against Andhra and lifted them to 318 for 7 in Bhubaneswar. Verma joined the opener Chopra with Himachal 103 for 5, and the two put on 89 for the sixth wicket before Chopra fell for 117 off 152 balls, having scored 80 of his runs in boundaries.

Verma then batted through to stumps to finish not out on 116 off 156, having struck 12 fours and three sixes. By then, he had put on 105 for the seventh wicket with debutant Mayank Dagar (42, 75b, 5x4, 1x6), who was dismissed 8.1 overs before stumps. For Andhra, medium-pacers D Siva Kumar and CV Stephen took two wickets each.

Chhattisgarh made a strong start to life in the Ranji Trophy, bowling Tripura out for 118 in Ranchi before closing the day 41 runs behind with seven wickets in hand. Choosing to bat first, Tripura only lasted 54 overs as each member of Chhattisgarh's five-man bowling attack, four of whom were first-class debutants (the team contained eight debutants in all), took at least one wicket. Left-arm orthodox spinner Ajay Mandal was the most successful Chhattisgarh bowler, with figures of 3 for 41.

In reply, Chhattisgarh closed the day 77 for 3, with opener Rishabh Tiwary and Ashutosh Singh, both on debut, scoring 31 each, with the latter remaining not out at stumps with captain Mohammad Kaif for company.

A four-wicket haul by Mohammed Siraj, a medium-pacer playing only his second first-class match, gave Hyderabad a strong start against Goa, who were bowled out for 164 after choosing to bat in Nagpur. Six of Goa's batsmen got into double-figures, but only Snehal Kauthankar (38) and Saurabh Bandekar (59, 144b, 8x4, 1x6) got past 20, as Hyderabad's seamers shared seven wickets between them. Siraj was the pick of them, finishing with figures of 15-9-14-4. Needing to bat out the last 10 overs of the day, Hyderabad ended the day at 28 for 1, with Tanmay Agarwal the batsman dismissed.

Rajat Paliwal took two wickets against his old team Services as Haryana enjoyed the better of a truncated day at the Brabourne Stadium. Sent in to bat after a wet outfield ruled out any play in the first session, Services limped to 143 for 6 in 57.4 overs. Opener Anshul Gupta scored 69 off 150 balls (11x4), putting on 40 for the first wicket with Soumik Chatterjee and 117 for the second with Nakul Verma to move Services to 117 for 1, but they lost their way thereafter as offspinner Paliwal and medium-pacer Harshal Patel took two wickets each to run through the middle order.