Delhi fight back after folding for 158
A round-up of the action from the first day of the fifth round of matches from the Ranji Trophy Elite League 2011-12
Sixteen wickets fell on the first day at the Emerald High School Ground in Indore, as Group B toppers Delhi folded for 158 before striking back to reduce Madhya Pradesh to 86 for 6 at the close. Fourteen wickets went to the fast bowlers, who made optimal use of a pitch that had a thin covering of grass. MP's new-ball pair of TP Sudhindra and Amit Sharma bowled unchanged on either side of lunch, taking seven wickets between them. Only two Delhi batsmen were able to go past 30. Opener Unmukt Chand lived dangerously during his 37. The MP openers began strongly with Naman Ojha, who made 39 from 35 balls, going after the bowling. The pair put on 61 but their dismissals in successive overs sparked a dramatic collapse and six wickets fell for 25 runs. MP are currently third in the table with eight points, two behind Delhi, but have a game in hand. Baroda limped to 194 for 7 on the first day of their match against Gujarat at the Moti Bagh Stadium in Vadodara. Baroda, who were asked to bat, made a steady start, with the openers adding 60 before Anupam Gupta fell for 28, but they were unable to build that partnership. Wickets fell at regular intervals and only Rakesh Solanki, who had a century against Delhi in the previous round, offered resistance with a composed 69, the highest score on the day. Baroda, who are second in Group B, were missing Irfan Pathan, who was included in the India squad for the last two ODIs against West Indies. They need a good result to have a chance of making the quarter-finals. Gujarat are currently second from bottom in the points table, but have a game in hand over Baroda and are only one point behind. K Vasudevadas and Ramaswamy Prasanna added 121 runs to lift Tamil Nadu from 120 for 5 to 261 for 5 against Bengal at Eden Gardens. The pair came together after the fall of India batsman Abhinav Mukund, who had kept one end up during a brisk 83 with 13 fours. Abhinav, who scored a double-century against Haryana and 99 against Delhi, did not let the early fall of the Tamil Nadu top order deter him. In contrast to Mukund, Vasudevadas and Prasanna batted with caution. They settled down soon after some sloppy fielding from Bengal, who missed out on some easy catches. Vasudevadas took 140 balls to make 69, but struck 10 fours and a six. Prasanna was more circumspect, facing 159 balls for 53, but also managed nine fours. "We were definitely struggling after being reduced to 140 for 5. But the partnership between K Vasudevadas and R Prasanna has now given us an upper hand. We can now look to score around 350-400 runs. It will then depend on our bowlers to pitch it right against the Bengal batsman, if we hope to bag some points," Mukund told The Telegraph.
Centuries from Ravi Inder Singh and Karan Goel put Punjab in a strong position against Rajasthan at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur. Rajasthan, the defending champions, have struggled to bowl sides out in the Elite league this season and it was no different today. After Sarul Kanwar fell early, Ravi Inder and Goel set about the bowling, compiling a 219-run partnership to shift the momentum entirely Punjab's way. Ravi Inder was eventually caught behind of Sumit Mathur for 133, and Deepak Chahar, who has not been able to replicate the form of his debut season, caught and bowled Mandeep Singh for 22 to give Rajasthan some joy at the end of a long day. Goel will return tomorrow on 116 and Punjab on 283 for 3.
Rajasthan captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar did not blame his bowlers entirely, but admitted the hosts could have build more pressure early on. "Had we picked up two more wickets, we could have put more pressure on the visitors," Kanitkar told The Times of India. "Both [Pankaj Singh and Chahar] of them bowled more than 20 overs each. There is a limit to one's capacity to bowl. That's why I had to introduce part-time bowlers like Vinit Saxena and Robin Bist."
Orissa held the advantage over Karnataka after the first day at the East Coast Railway Sports Association in Bhubaneshwar. Karnataka are in second place in Group A, while Orissa are last, but, on a tricky pitch which offered uneven bounce, their bowlers were able to reduce the visitors to 238 for 6. Alok Mangaraj, playing his third first-class game, removed three of the top four batsmen. At 130 for 5, Karnataka were at risk of being bowled out on the first day, but M Gautam and Amit Verma added 85 for the sixth wicket. Gautam was unbeaten on 63 and will return tomorrow with Sunil Raju. Nitin Bille scored his maiden century and Shivakant Shukla fell short of his own by two runs, but four late wickets meant Uttar Pradesh shared the day's honour's with Railways at the Mohan Meakins Cricket Stadium in Ghaziabad. Former India spinner Murali Kartik opened the innings with Shukla, and contributed 27 to their partnership of 31. His dismissal brought Bille to the crease and he and Shukla set about accumulating runs. Having batted for over five hours and faced 203 balls, Shukla was caught off India legspinner Piyush Chawla for 98. Chawla then dismissed Sanjay Bangar in the same over for a duck. UP took two more wickets, including that of Bille for 123, to claw their way back into the game.