Ranji Trophy semi-finals roundup: Gujarat punish Jharkhand; Tamil Nadu slump after bright start
The first day of the Ranji Trophy semifinals was a rather sedate one, and after an intriguing day of cricket, none of the teams could claim they hold the edge.
Jharkhand vs Gujarat
An inspired Jharkhand met Gujarat in Nagpur, but captain Saurabh Tiwary lost the toss, and Gujarat decided to bat first on a rather flat surface in Nagpur.
Openers Samit Gohel and Priyank Panchal put on 62 for the first wicket and lay a solid platform for Gujarat. Vikash Singh got the first breakthrough for Jharkhand, but by then the pitch had already flattened out.
Priyank Panchal continued his sterling run in the season and kept scoring runs for fun and put the pressure on the bowlers whenever a bad ball was bowled at him. He ended the day on 252-ball 144. He was given good support first by Bhargav Merai and then by captain Parthiv Patel, who himself scored a sparkling 62.
It was a tough day in the office for Jharkhand’s bowlers, as the pitch was devoid of any assistance and there was hardly anything in it for either the spinners and the seamers. The Gujarat batsmen made full use of the surface and each batsmen dug in and contributed to the team’s cause.
Vikash Singh picked up a couple of wickets, and off-spinner Kaushal Singh got a solitary scalp.
Jharkhand need an inspiration from somewhere on Day 2 if they harbour any hopes of a comeback, and with Panchal solid at the crease, things do not entirely promising for Saurabh Tiwary and his men.
Brief scores: Gujarat- 283/3, Priyank Panchal: 144*; Vikash Singh: 13- 5- 48- 2
Tamil Nadu vs Mumbai
The other semifinal at Rajkot was played between defending champions Mumbai and Tamil Nadu in Rajkot.
Tamil Nadu captain, Abhinav Mukund won the toss a chose to bat on a pitch which had just a tinge of green grass. The Mumbai new-ball bowlers kept it tight and kept probing away and finally found reward when Abhishek Nayar accounted for V Ganga Sridhar Raju.
Abhinav Mukund quickly followed and Tamil Nadu were in a spot of bother at 68 for 2. However, a century partnership for the 3rd wicket between Baba Indrajith and Kaushik Gandhi settled all nerves and put Tamil Nadu in the driver’s seat.
Shardul Tahkur came back with the old ball and found some immediate reverse swing and prized out the wickets of Indrajith. Nayar struck too and removed Gandhi, and all of a sudden Tamil Nadu lost all the initiative when they were reduced to 188 for 4.
Thakur who found some good rhythm then took out Dinesh Karthik and Tamil Nadu were now at 202 for 5. Baba Aparatjith was out immediately after the break when he was caught by Suryakumar Yadav of the bowling of Vijay Gohil.
All-in-all it was a day of mixed fortunes for both teams, and Mumbai would beleve they have just edged ahead after the late wickets.