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Hanuma Vihari ton puts Hyderabad in strong position

Abdul Samad and Shahrukh Khan also score tons for their respective teams; Pujara out for a four-ball duck as Saurashtra struggle

Saurabh Somani
Hanuma Vihari drives through covers, South Africa vs India, 2nd Test, Johannesburg, 3rd day, January 5, 2021

File photo: Hanuma Vihari drives through covers  •  AFP/Getty Images

Hanuma Vihari followed up a first-innings half-century with a second-innings 106, as Hyderabad put themselves in a strong position to gain an outright victory over Chandigarh on the third day of the first round of matches in the Ranji Trophy 2021-22.
The day also saw aggressive centuries from two men who have made headlines for their short-form batting more, with Abdul Samad hitting 103 off 78 balls for Jammu and Kashmir against Pondicherry, and M Shahrukh Khan smashing 194 off 148 balls for Tamil Nadu against Delhi.
Vihari, who was selected in India's Test squad for the series against Sri Lanka, had been Hyderabad's top-scorer in the first innings too, with 59 runs even though every single batter made it to double figures to drive the total to 347 all out. In contrast, Chandigarh had Manan Vohra playing a lone hand with 110 in a total of 216 in an Elite Group B match at the Vikas Cricket Ground in Cuttack.
In Hyderabad's second innings, Vihari hit his 22nd first-class century, as Hyderabad declared on 269 for 8, setting Chandigarh an unlikely 401 for victory. Tilak Varma shared in a 130-run stand for the third with Vihari, before he was out for 63. Chandigarh had already lost two wickets in the eight overs and were 21 for 2 at stumps.
In the Barsapara Cricket Stadium in Guwahati, Tamil Nadu held the advantage against Delhi in an Elite Group H match, thanks to Shahrukh's swashbuckling innings, the standout century in a game that had Yash Dhull hitting a hundred on debut to rescue Delhi from 7 for 2, then Lalit Yadav's maiden first-class century that swelled to 177 as he took Delhi from 253 for 7 to 452 all out. B Indrajith also hit 117, but it was Shahrukh's 194 that stole the show. With only a day left, a draw seems most likely but Shahrukh has ensured Tamil Nadu will get first-innings lead points, a prospect that seemed unlikely when they were 162 for 5.
In an Elite Group C match in Chennai's SSN College of Engineering ground, Jammu and Kashmir were on the brink of victory against Pondicherry.
Qamran Iqbal fell on his overnight score of 96, but Samad's whirlwind century drove J&K to a first-innings lead as they were bowled out for 426 in reply to Pondicherry's 343. Parvez Rasool's spin then had Pondicherry tumbling to 113 for 9 at stumps, a lead of only 30 runs.
In Ahmedabad, Cheteshwar Pujara was out for a four-ball duck as defending champions Saurashtra were made to follow on against Mumbai in an Elite Group D match.
Overnight 18 without loss, Saurashtra were bowled out for 220 after Mumbai had piled on 544 for 7 declared. Pujara came in at No.4, and was lbw to Mohit Avasthi shortly after. Sheldon Jackson's 61 was Saurashtra's highest score in the first innings, but they put up a better show when following on, with openers Harvik Desai and Snell Patel having shared a 105-run stand that is still unbroken. Even so, given their massive deficit in the first innings, Saurashtra are trailing by a sizeable 219 runs.
Three games finished on the third day, with Kerala beating Meghalaya by an innings and 166 runs in an Elite Group A match, Chattisgarh defeating Jharkhand by eight wickets in an Elite Group H match, and Manipur victorious by an innings and 25 runs against Arunachal Pradesh in a Plate Group match.
Playing his first first-class match since his ban in 2013 for spot-fixing, S Sreesanth didn't have a good outing for Kerala, although his team overwhelmed Meghalaya.
In the first innings, Meghalaya were bowled out for just 148, with Eden Apple Tom taking 4 for 41 on debut. Sreesanth took the wickets of the No.9 and No.11 batters, returning 2 for 40 in 11.5 overs. Centuries by P Rahul, Rohan Kunnumal and Vatshal Govind then propelled Kerala to 505 for 9 declared, before they bowled out Meghalaya for 191. Sreesanth went wicket-less, giving up 57 runs in nine overs.

Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo