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Ranji Trophy: Bihar's Sakibul Gani enters record books after hitting triple ton on debut

Sarfaraz smashed 275 off just 401 balls to guide Mumbai to a massive 544 for 7

Saurabh Somani
Sakibul Gani became the first to score a triple century on first-class debut

Sakibul Gani became the first to score a triple century on first-class debut  •  ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Sakibul Gani, the 22-year-old right-hand batter from Bihar, made history by becoming the first man to hit a triple century on first-class debut, on the second day of the Ranji Trophy 2021-22. Bihar piled up 686 for 5 declared in 159.4 overs against Mizoram in a Plate Group match at the Jadavpur University Campus 2nd Ground in Kolkata. Gani hit 341 in just 405 balls with two sixes and 56 fours and shared in a gargantuan partnership of 538 runs for the fourth wicket alongside double-centurion Babul Kumar, who made 229 not out.
Gani broke Ajay Rohera's record for the highest score on first-class debut, set in the 2018-19 Ranji Trophy season. Rohera had made 267 not out for Madhya Pradesh against Hyderabad in Indore. Rohera himself had also broken the record of a fellow Indian, with Amol Muzumdar's record of 260 on debut for Bombay (as it was called then) against Haryana standing since 1993-94.
Gani came in with Bihar looking for stability at 71 for 3 in the 23rd over, and dominated all bowlers. He was unbeaten on 136 overnight, and carried on to make more than 200 runs on the second day. He was eventually caught by Taruwar Kohli off Iqbal Abdulla's bowling in the 149th over. Shortly after, Bihar declared, and by the end, they had reduced Mizoram to 40 for 3.
Sarfaraz's 275 takes Mumbai to 544
In an Elite Group D match in Ahmedabad, Mumbai piled on 544 for 7 against defending champions Saurashtra. Both Ajinkya Rahane and Sarfaraz Khan were unbeaten on centuries after the first day, but while Rahane was out for 129, Sarfaraz carried on to smash 275, off just 401 balls. He had been in scintillating form in the last Ranji season, held in 2019-20, piling up 928 runs in just six matches to be the highest scorer in the Elite groups. Three of his nine innings were centuries, and each time he made it humongous, 301 not out, 226 not out and 177. His latest knock brings Sarfaraz's tally to 1203 runs in his last ten Ranji Trophy innings.
Saurashtra's openers, Harvik Desai and Snell Patel, had safely negotiated nine overs before the close to be 18 without loss. The man to follow them will be Cheteshwar Pujara at No.3.
Lalit leads lower-order charge with 177
In Guwahati, Delhi - who had been served well by Dhull's century on debut on the first day - seized control courtesy Lalit Yadav's remarkable 177, his maiden first-class century and an innings in which he reached both 50 and 100 with sixes, just two of the 10 he hit in a 287-ball stay. Lalit had come in at No.7, with the score 217 for 5. That was to become 253 for 7, but Lalit helmed the lower order expertly as Delhi ended up with 452 all out. He made 24 to Simarjeet Singh's 19 in a 48-run stand for the eighth wicket, then 82 in a 92-run stand for the ninth-wicket with Vikas Mishra, and finally 47 out of 59 in the last-wicket stand alongside Kuldip Yadav. Lalit was the last man out, becoming R Sai Kishore's only wicket in the innings.
"It feels good, in fact great," Lalit, 25, told PTI. "If you would have asked me at the start of the day whether I would be close to double hundred batting with Nos 9, 10 and 11. I wouldn't have believed it.
"I never felt that I need to nudge and push to reach the three-figure mark, or for that matter, any milestone. What are the chances that the tail-ender wouldn't be out? I had to take chances, and I did. When they spread the field, I had to back my abilities that I could clear the ground. I am happy that I could execute big shots properly."
Lalit, who was bought back by Delhi Capitals in the IPL 2022 auctions for 65 lakh after having spent the last two years at the franchise, said his game had improved under Capitals head coach Ricky Ponting.
"I am thankful that I have got Ricky sir's guidance in the last couple of seasons. I could feel my game has improved by leaps and bounds," he said. "Obviously, IPL changes your outlook as a cricketer. It's not about money, but you start thinking that if I have reached this level, then there is no looking back. You have to improve and get better every day."
Openers give Punjab strong start
In an Elite Group F match at the Arun Jaitley Stadium in Delhi, the opening duo of Abhishek Sharma and Prabhsimran Singh put the Himachal Pradesh attack to the sword while making runs for Punjab, with Prabhsimran hitting a century on first-class debut. Both men had attracted bids at the recent IPL 2022 auction, Abhishek going to Sunrisers Hyderabad for a hefty INR 6 crore while Prabhsimran was picked up by Punjab Kings for INR 60 lakh, and both batted in accelerated mode too.
They put on 182 for the opening wicket in just 33.3 overs, when Abhishek, also the captain, fell just short of his century, out for 98 off 101 balls. Prabhsimran carried on a bit longer, eventually out for 123 off 138 balls. Punjab's quick scoring continued, however, as Anmolpreet Singh hit 36 off 42 and Gurkeerat Singh Mann made 46 off 35. Mandeep Singh lent the steadying hand and was unbeaten on 62 off 123, with Punjab ending the day on 393 for 4, having already taken the first-innings lead after having bowled out Himachal for 354, taking only six overs to pick up four wickets in the morning. All four were taken by seamer Baltej Singh. He ended with 5 for 61.
Sindhu, Pavan impress on debuts
Nishant Sindhu almost followed in the footsteps of his Under-19 captain Yash Dhull, but ran out of partners in the nineties, in Haryana's match against Tripura in an Elite Group F match at the Palam A Ground in Delhi.
Batting at No.5, Sindhu made his runs briskly, with 93 not out off 139. Yashu Sharma, who had already crossed a century on the first day, was the highest scorer in the innings with 129, both Shivam Chauhan and wicketkeeper Kapil Hooda - also on first-class debut - made fifty-plus scores too. Haryana powered to 556 all out, and Tripura were 56 for 1 by stumps.
In another successful debut, 22-year-old Pavan Shah hit 219 for Maharashtra against Assam in an Elite Group G match at the Bansi Lal Cricket Stadium in Rohtak. Opening the innings, Pavan had already made a century on debut on the first day, ending it unbeaten on 165. He went on to make it a double, before becoming Mukhtar Hussain's fifth victim of the innings. Pavan apart, the highest score by a Maharashtra batter was Satyajeet Bachhav's 52. Pavan was the seventh wicket to fall, and his innings underpinned Maharashtra's total of 415. Tripura were 81 for 2 in reply at stumps.

Saurabh Somani is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo