The India A boys returned from New Zealand and lent some competitive edge to the sixth round of Ranji Trophy matches across the country. Many of them reached their venues barely 12 hours before their match. Here's how the opening day went:
Shreyas Iyer shreds jetlag in style
Less than 24 hours after landing from New Zealand, Shreyas Iyer showed what Mumbai missed for the first half of a dismal campaign - they're at the bottom of Group A, with only Chhattisgarh below them. Iyer struck his 12th first-class century - a bruising 139-ball 178 - courtesy 17 fours and 11 sixes against Baroda at Wankhede Stadium. His 283-run third-wicket stand with Siddesh Lad, the captain, came off just 271 balls. Mumbai blasted 439 for 8 by stumps. Lad helped himself to a slightly mellow, but no-less effective 130.
How did comeback man Hardik Pandya do?
Among those made to toil was Hardik Pandya. Returning to top-flight cricket for the first time since injuring his lower back at the Asia Cup in September, Pandya, given the new ball, removed openers Aditya Tare and Vikrant Auti in his first spell. He returned later in the day to dismiss the dangerous Shivam Dube. In all, his figures read a respectable 15-0-74-3.
What about the other India A boys?
India A's highest run-getter during the 3-0 one-day series win in New Zealand, Vijay Shankar's journey to Mohali was more eventful. His route read something like this: Mount Maunganui-Auckland-Singapore-Mumbai-Delhi and then a six-hour road trip to Chandigarh. This meant he reached the venue close to midnight on Thursday and was amid the thick of things in the second session, reviving a floundering Tamil Nadu innings. Walking in at 73 for 4, he struck a 122-ball 71 to take them to 213 for 9 at stumps against Punjab. Vijay was the seventh batsman dismissed, after which TN lost two more.
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Ishan Kishan, meanwhile, struck a counter-attacking 42-ball 54 to put Jharkhand back on track after they were reduced to 59 for 4 in the first session by a fired up Uttar Pradesh attack. That they finished at a relatively strong 278 for 6 was courtesy Kishan's Jharkhand mentor and senior batsman Ishank Jaggi, who was 76 not out at stumps. Jaggi battled for 176 deliveries, hitting eight fours. His unbroken seventh-wicket stand with Shahbaz Nadeem, who was also with India A for the four-day fixtures in New Zealand not too long ago, was worth 121. Nadeem was unbeaten on 70, possibly eyeing a maiden first-class century on Saturday.
Panchal's form continues, Milind breaches 1000 barrier
Leading Gujarat, champions of 2016-17 in Parthiv Patel's absence, opener Priyank Panchal struck his eighth score of fifty or more this season - he's converted three of those into hundreds - but Gujarat failed to capitalise. Smarting from a defeat to Saurashtra on a rank turner, Karnataka roared back to dismiss Gujarat for 216, and finished on 45 for the loss of Mayank Agarwal and D Nischal in reply.
Panchal's 741 runs, including Friday's 74, is the most by a batsman from the Elite group so far. Overall, it's second-best to Milind Kumar's 1017. The Delhi-based Sikkim professional breached the 1000-run barrier during the course of his fourth century of the season - two of those have been double tons. He struck 139 to put Sikkim in a commanding position at 321 for 9 against Mizoram in the Plate Group where bowlers dominated proceedings elsewhere.
There also seems to be no stopping Deepak Dhapola, the Uttarakhand fast bowler, who picked up his sixth five-wicket haul of the season to take his wicket tally to 42 in his sixth game, the most in the season so far. It helped bowl Nagaland out for 207, before Uttarakhand finished on 73 for 2. With five wins in five matches, they're all but through to the knockouts.
Meanwhile in Goalpara, as many as 22 wickets fell on a manic day where Puducherry took control despite being shot out for 136 in the first innings. Fabid Ahmed picked 6 for 29 to shoot Arunachal out for 82. At stumps, Puducherry lost two more in the second innings, but had extended their lead to 82.
Groups A & B
Mumbai 439 for 8 (Iyer 178, Lad 130, Bhatt 4-68, Hardik Pandya 3-74) v Baroda in Mumbai
Saurashtra 269 for 3 (Vishwarajsinh Jadeja 97, Snell Patel 84) v Maharashtra in Nashik
Karnataka 45 for 2 trail Gujarat 216 (Panchal 74, Shreyas 2-21, Vinay 2-33) by 171 runs in Surat
Vidarbha 243 for 6 (Fazal 43, Wadkar 48, Avinash Yadav 3-69) v Railways in New Delhi
Kerala 291 for 7 (Manoharan 77*, Jalaj Saxena 68, Shivam 4-78) v Delhi in Thiruvananthapuram
Tamil Nadu 213 for 9 (Vijay Shankar 71, Grewal 5-55) v Punjab in Mohali
Bengal 99 for 2 (Easwaran 57*) v Hyderabad in Hyderabad
Himachal 51 for 1 trail Andhra 173 (Jyothisaikrishna 74, Jaiswal 5-50) by 122 runs in Amtar
Jharkhand 278 for 6 (Jaggi 76*, Nadeem 70*, DP Singh 4-76) v Uttar Pradesh in Lucknow
Assam 190 for 7 (Sinha 51*, Pandey 3-65) v Services in New Delhi
Haryana 129 for 5 (RP Sharma 41, Nazir 4-43) trail Jammu & Kashmir 161 (Haroon 26, Yuzvendra Chahal 3-50) by 32 runs in Lahli
Odisha 78 for 4 trail Rajasthan 135 (Lomror 85, Basant Mohanty 6-20) by 57 runs in Bhubaneswar
Tripura 247 for 7 (Pratyush Singh 98*, Verma 3-56) v Goa in Agartala
Bihar 80 for 2 trail Meghalaya 125 (Biswa 56, Aman 8-51) by 45 runs in Shillong
Sikkim 321 for 9 (Milind 139, Sinan 3-740 v Mizoram in Jorhat
Puducherry 36 (Ahmed 41*, Deendyal 4-36) and 28 for 2 lead Arunachal 86 (Ahmed 6-29) by 82 runs in Goalpara
Uttarakhand 73 for 2 (Suyal 2-38) trail Nagaland 207 (Jonathan 69, Dhapola 5-49) by 134 runs in Dehradun