Pune: Maharashtra, last season’s quarter-finalists, made a strong statement of intent against Group B table toppers Uttar Pradesh at the Sahara Stadium here on Friday as they began their 2012-13 Ranji Trophy season. Having opted to bat, the home team rallied to a daunting 339 for 3 at the close of play with Kedar Jhadav reaching his century in the final over of the day.
Against a UP bowling attack missing Praveen Kumar, Maharashtra lost their first wicket at 42 in the 16th over when Chirag Khurana (21) edged Piyush Chawla behind the stumps to give the legspinner a breakthrough in his first over on return to the side. But that was followed by a 110-run stand between Harshad Khadiwale (68) and Sangram Atitkar (80) as Maharashtra went onto the offensive after a slow start.
On a pitch offering nothing to the pace bowlers, it took something special for medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar to break that stand. With the last ball of the 53rd over, Bhuvneshwar beat Khadiwale’s bat to leave Maharashtra at 152 for 2. In the 61st over, the bowler struck again to deny Atitkar a century; he too was bowled.
TN's top four all cashed in against Karnataka while Badani’s 5-hour vigil kept Vidharba afloat.
From 187 for 3 at tea, Jadhav – promoted to No. 4 – and Ankit Bawne started to take runs off UP’s flagging attack. Jadhav was the aggressor and scored runs freely and finished on 102, with Bawne batting on 60. UP look to be in for another tough day on Saturday.
Brief scores: Maharashtra 339 for 3 in 90 overs (Kedar Jadhav 102*, Sangram Atitkar 80, Harshad Khadiwale 68, Ankit Bawne 60*) v Uttar Pradesh
In Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s top four batsmen all reached half-centuries on a slow-going day against Karnataka. Having opted to bat first on a dry Chepauk surface that assisted turn, the home team finished on 260 for 2 with S Badrinath and rookie Baba Aparajith at the crease.
The day was Tamil Nadu’s all the way. Abhinav Mukund and Arun Karthick – opening in the absence of Murali Vijay, on India duty – put on 106 for the opening wicket and before Badrinath and Aparajith joined for a 150-run association. After a slow start, Karthick opened up against KP Appana after the left-arm spinner was brought on to bowl the sixth over. Of the 90 overs bowled, 59 were from the slow bowlers.
It was a blonde-streaked Ganesh Sathish who broke the opening stand when he had Karthick lbw for 50. Shortly after lunch, Mukund departed for 51 when he feathered a catch off Sunil Raju. Karnataka’s spinners then proceeded to tie Badrinath and Aparajith – in his fifth match – down for much of the second session. However, the third-wicket pair was content_cn to bide time and set themselves in.
On a tough track, Badrinath and Aparajith opened up in the final session to cross their respective half-centuries. For Aparajith it was a maiden first-class fifty while Badrinath, the veteran, was closing in on 8000 first-class runs.
Brief scores: Tamil Nadu 260 for 2 in 90 0vers (Baba Aparajith 85*, S Badrinath 61*, Abhinav Mukund 51, Arun Karthick 50) v Karnataka
In Vadodara, former India batsman Hemang Badani batted for 331 minutes to rescue his adopted team, Vidharba, from 16 for 3 to 219 for 8 at stumps.
Baroda, missing the injured Irfan Pathan, made a strong start after putting Vidharba in to bat. Gagandeep Singh and Murtuja Vahora removed Faiz Fazal (0) and Aniruddha Chore (1) before another former India batsman, SS Das, was dismissed for 1. Enter Badani, who with Shalabh Srivastava (63) put on 97 for the fourth wicket.
From 114 for 4, Vidharba slipped to 129 for 6. Then, Baroda captain Yusuf Pathan struck with his offspin, taking out his opposite number Sairaj Bahutule and Shrikant Wagh cheaply. But Badani refused to budge and fought valiantly with Amol Jungade (27*) to keep Baroda at bay.
Brief scores: Vidharba 219 for 8 in 90 0vers (Hemang Badani 85*, Shalabh Srivastava 63) v Baroda