Ranji Trophy Semi-Final, Day 2 Roundup: Pujara scores brilliant hundred to give Saurashtra impetus against Assam
On Day 2 of the Ranji Trophy semi-finals, Mumbai and Saurashtra were on top in their respective games against Madhya Pradesh and Assam. Cheteshwar Pujara's century helped Saurashtra take a first innings lead at the end of the second day at the Reliance Stadium in Vadodara. After losing early wickets quickly, Madhya Pradesh was able to end Day 2 on a respectable note after an unbeaten half-century from wicketkeeper-batsman, Naman Ojha.
Mumbai resumed the second day on 327/7 with Siddesh Lad and Shardul Thakur at the crease. Half-centurion, Lad was only able to add three runs to his overnight score as he got out for 60. Puneet Datey, who was wicketless for Madhya Pradesh on Day One, picked up both the wickets of Lad and Thakur. Thakur scored a useful knock of 27 to help add runs to his side's total.
No. 10 batsman, Balwinder Sandhu also contributed with a 31-ball 21 to help Mumbai reach a total of 371 in the first innings. Badre Alam, who was the last batsman out, became Chandrakant Sakure's fifth victim of the innings.
Madhya Pradesh did not get off to a good start as they lost both openers – Aditya Shrivastava and Jalaj Saxena – by the 11th over when the score was 20/2. Rajat Patidar and Naman Ojha steadied the ship as they were involved in a 55-run partnership for the third wicket.
Patidar and captain Devendra Bundela both lost their wickets in quick succession and MP were again in a spot of bother. However, Ojha's partnerships with Harpreet Singh and Ankit Dane helped MP reach a respectable total of 197 at the close of play.
On Day Three, Ojha will be looking to reach the three-figure mark to help MP get closer to Mumbai's total and reduce the burden on the MP bowlers.
Brief Scores: Madhya Pradesh 197/5, 75 overs (Ojha 75*; Sandhu 2/41) trail Mumbai 371/10, 102.5 overs (Iyer 90; Tare 68, Lad 60; Sakure 5/137, Ishwar Pandey 2/34) by 174 runs.
In the match between Assam and Saurashtra, Amit Verma fell two runs short of his hundred after Assam resumed Day Two on 193/7. A 64-run partnership between Verma and Dhiraj Goswami helped Assam reach a first innings total of 234.
Jaydev Unadkat was the main tormentor with the ball as he picked up six wickets for Saurashtra, three of his wickets in the last four balls of the Assam batting innings.
Cheteshwar Pujara was the saviour for Saurashtra as he scored a brilliant unbeaten hundred to give his side a 20-run lead at the end of Day Two. Pujara finished the day with 116 not out off 212 balls, hitting 15 fours and one six.
Sheldon Jackson scored 47 and put in a 69-run partnership with Pujara to help Saurashtra out of a possible troublesome situation at 85/3.
However, the unbeaten sixth wicket partnership between Pujara and Chirag Jani was the one that really gave Saurashtra the upper hand. Both batsmen were involved in a 93-run partnership that came at a run rate of 5.52, with Pujara taking the upper hand in the partnership to reach his 31st first-class hundred.
Saurashtra will hope for more from the duo as they will look to extend their lead and put pressure on the Assam bowlers.
Brief Scores: Saurashtra 254/5, 82 overs (Pujara 116*, Jackson 47; Arup Das 3/68) lead Assam 234/10, 87 overs (Amit Verma 98, Arun Karthik 59; Unadkat 6/77) by 20 runs.