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Ranji Trophy SF, Day 1 Round-Up: Shreyas Iyer leads the way while Assam struggle in their maiden Ranji semi-final

The round-up from Day 1 of the semifinal stage of the Ranji Trophy 2015-16 season.

Shreyas Iyer Mumbai Cricket
Shreyas Iyer’s stocks continue to rise after yet another fine display in the Ranji Trophy semi-final

The semi-finals of the 2015/16 Ranji Trophy season kicked off on Saturday with Mumbai taking on Madhya Pradesh at the DRIEMS Ground at Cuttack and Assam taking on Saurashtra at the Modi Bagh Stadium in Vadodara.

The highlights of the day were Shreyas Iyer’s quick-fire 90 as Mumbai made it a point to prove their mettle scoring more than 300 runs on Day 1 while Assam are struggling at 193/7 at stumps on Day one in spite of a 125-run partnership between Amit Verma and Arun Karthik. 

Mumbai continues their aggressive approach

Mumbai were without the services of Dhawal Kulkarni who was sidelined with an injury while Bhavan Thakkar was included in the playing eleven instead of Jay Bista. However, it was the batsmen who would be put to test with Madhya Pradesh skipper Devendra Bundela winning the toss and sending the opposition into bat. 

Bundela’s decision seemed justified when Akhil Herwadkar was dismissed for 16 to give MP an early breakthrough but Mumbai, who have an exhibited an aggressive approach throughout the Ranji campaign, continued in their way led by the ever-dependable Shreyas Iyer. 

Iyer, by far the leading run-getter in the 2015/16 season, took the attack to the opposition with a flurry of boundaries and was oozing with confidence as he dispatched the MP bowlers with minimum effort. Though Mumbai suffered a double blow with Thakkar and Yadav heading back to the pavilion in quick succession, Iyer and skipper Aditya Tare went ahead with their gameplay undeterred. 

Iyer looked to be closing in on a well-deserved century but was dismissed 10 runs short of the milestone as he became one of Chandrakant Sakure’s four victims on the opening day’s play. Mumbai continued to show their batting depth as first Siddesh Lad and then Abhishek Nayar continued from where Iyer and Tare left off. Nayar made 43 while Siddesh is unbeaten on 57.  

Brief scores: Mumbai 327/7 off 89 overs (Iyer 90, Tare 68, Lad 57*; Sakure 4/102, Pandey 2/34)

Saurashtra on top at stumps on Day 1

Playing their first ever Ranji Trophy semi-final, Assam got off to a disastrous start as they lost three early wickets with just 25 runs on the board. Rahul Hazarika was the first to go, dismissed for a duck with Pallavkumar Das and skipper Gokul Sharma soon following suit. Saurashtra’s new-ball pair of Jaydev Unadkat and Hardik Rathod vindicated Jaydev Shah’s decision to have a crack at the Assam batsmen early on with their fiery spells.

But if Saurashtra thought that the cricketing minnows would roll over easily, they were hugely mistaken as Verma and Karthick led a spirited fightback from the north-eastern state. The duo added 127 runs for the fourth wicket as they played out patiently waiting for the bad balls to dispatch to the boundary.   

Karthik’s dismissal for 59, however, seemed to spark off another mini collapse as Assam were reduced from 152/3 to 180/7. The only ray of hope for Assam is the fact that Verma is still batting on 74 but he’s quickly running out of partners at the other end as they struggle to inch towards the 200-run mark. 

Brief scores: Assam 193/7 off 78 overs (Verma 74*, Karthik 59; Rathod 3/37, Unadkat 3/60) 

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