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Chopra ton puts Rajasthan on top

Round-up of the first day of the semi-final round of the Ranji Trophy Plate League

Rajasthan took a big step towards the Ranji Trophy quarter-finals after Aakash Chopra's unbeaten 145 helped them finish the first day at the Golf Club Ground in Nasik at 293 for 2 in their knockout match against Maharashtra. The visitors were put into bat and had an early setback when opener Vineet Saxena was caught behind off seamer Shrikant Mundhe for 10. Chopra then built a 58-run partnership with captain Hrishikesh Kanitkar before Kanitkar was caught and bowled by left-arm spinner Akshya Darekar. But it was the next partnership between Chopra and Robin Bist that is threatening to take the game away from Maharashtra. By stumps, the two had added 199 and put Rajasthan in a position from which they can build a big first-innings total. Maharashtra will find it hard to recover if they do and with this being a knockout match, even a first-innings lead will be enough for Rajasthan to join the upper tier teams in the Ranji Trophy.
Andhra threw away a solid start to hand Madhya Pradesh the advantage in their knockout match at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore. They collapsed from 173 for 3 to 225 for 9 with MP's seamers doing most of the damage. Opener Hemal Watekar's 78 and useful contributions from Venugopal Rao and Bodapati Sumanth had taken Andhra to a comfortable position after they lost two early wickets. But Sumanth and Watekar fell between four balls of each other to start Andhra's slide. MP Seamer Ishwar Pandey, who finished with figures of 4 for 61, dismissed Duvvarapu Shivkumar and AG Pradeep in quick succession and Andhra were suddenly 182 for 7. Doddapaneni Kalyankrishna put up some resistance with his unbeaten 30, but MP had control of the game by the end of the day. Andhra had come into the knockout game with all the momentum having won their last two group games to take top spot in Group B.