Two seasoned, left-handed Bengaluru-born players -- Amit Verma and Sreenath Aravind -- representing rival teams, stole the honours on day one of a Group B Ranji Trophy match between Assam and Karnataka in Mumbai on Thursday.
While pacer Aravind wrecked the Assam batting line-up after they chose to bat first at the Bandra-Kurla complex ground, with his career's second five-wicket in an innings haul, his former statemate Verma stood rocklike to prop up Assam's first innings by notching his 11th first class hundred in his 62nd game.
At stumps, Assam were 268 for six after recovering from 16 for three and then 166 for six by riding on no. 4 batsman Verma's diligent, unbeaten knock of 125 in 340 minutes that contained 18 fours and a six and came off 259 balls.
The other unbeaten batsman at close was Sarupam Purkayastha, who was on 56 after having batted for 140 minutes, facing 88 balls and hitting seven fours and one six.
Aravind finished with figures of five for 49 in 21 overs, shouldering the pace bowling responsibility in lion-hearted style following the early exit of partner Abhimanyu Mithun, who bowled only four balls in his second over before leaving the field. He didn't bowl again during the day.
The 32-year-old Aravind's first spell read an impressive 6-1-17-3. He then came back to end the fourth wicket partnership of 76 between Verma and K B Arun Karthik (35) by clean bowling the latter.
Binny broke another stubborn stand for the fifth wicket between 29-year-old Verma, who played some glorious drives to the off side, and Tarjinder Singh after the duo added 54 runs.
Aravind then dismissed Syed Mohammed for a duck to complete his second five-wicket haul in his 47th game.
Verma batted confidently and with great responsibility at the other end to reach his 100 with a straight driven four off unimpressive leg spinner Shreyas Gopal, in 203 balls, inclusive of a six and 16 fours in four and a half hours.
Verma also added an unconquered 102 runs for the seventh wicket with Purkayastha, taking full advantage of the weakened Karnataka attack in which Aravind, who has played one T20 game for India, was the lone bright spot.
Assam 1st innings: 268 for six (Amit Verma 125 batting, S Purkayastha 56 batting; S Aravind 5/49).
Bengal reduce Railways to 37/4 after being bowled out for 205
Dharamsala:Bengal seamers led by Ashok Dinda brought their team back in the match by blowing away Railways top-order after being bowled out for 205 in the first innings of the Ranji Trophy group A encounter on Thursday.
Dinda (2/17 in 8 overs) bowled unchanged for eight overs and was supported well by Amit Kuila (1/8) and Sayan Ghosh (1/12) as they reduced Railways to 37 for 4 in seamer-friendly conditions at the HPCA Stadium.
Left-handed opener Saurabh Wakaskar (4) got a boundary off Dinda's first delivery and the very next one saw the speedster take a return catch.
Former Baroda player Mrunal Devdhar (17) was the next to go as he lobbed one to Pankaj Shaw to give Dinda his second wicket.
While opener Shivakant Shukla (8 batting, 36 balls) doggedly defended at one end, he saw Vasaimudi Cheluvuraj edge a Sayan outswinger to Wriddhiman Saha behind the stumps.
Arindam Ghosh (4), who is having a wretched run, was castled by Kuila as Railways still need 169 runs to get a first innings lead.
Earlier, Karn Sharma called correctly at the toss and rightly put Bengal into bat.
Abhimanyu Easwaran (8) hit a couple of boundaries but was snapped by Rawat behind the stumps off Anureet Singh's (4/66) bowling.
It was left-handed Sudeep Chatterjee (85, 11x4), whose 158-ball knock was the saving grace in an otherwise inept batting show on a track that aided seamers.
Chatterjee has now failed to convert three half-centuries in three matches into three-figure mark. After 73 against UP and 51 against Punjab, the stylish left-hander yet again did all the hardwork before he was undone by a slower from Anureet.
The only significant partnership that Chatterjee had was a 66-run stand for the fifth wicket with Agniv Pan (27).
This was after Bengal were rattled at 62 for 4 with both Manoj Tiwary (0) and Wriddhiman Saha (0) back in the pavilion without troubling the scorers.
Both were guilty of lack of footwork to away going deliveries from former UP medium pacer Amit Mishra. Mishra had figures of 3/38 in 17 overs.
Bengal crossed 200-run mark thanks to some lusty blows by Dinda, whose 26-ball-30 had five boundaries.
Brief Scores: Bengal 1st Innings: 205 in 69.5 overs (Sudeep Chatterjee 85, Ashok Dinda 30, Agniv Pan 27, Anureet Singh 4/66, Amit Mishra 3/38)
Railways 1st Innings: 37/4 (Mrunal Devdhar 17, Ashok Dinda 2/17).
Delhi take control after dismissing Odisha for 237
Mohali:Delhi took firm control of the proceedings after a collective performance from bowlers saw them bowl out Odisha for a lowly 237 in a Ranji Trophy group B encounter, in Odisha on Thursday.
At stumps, Delhi comfortably reached 43 for no loss in 10 overs with skipper Gautam Gambhir reaching 26 in company of Unmukt Chand, who was batting on 13.
Earlier, Gambhir won the toss and put Odisha into bat. Veteran seamer Sumit Narwal (2/34) used the new ball to good effect as he removed Ranji Singh (4) with an outgoing delivery and Sandeep Pattanaik (7) with an incoming delivery.
Once Gobind Poddar (24) and Anurag Sarangi (18) were dismissed in quick succession, Odisha were in trouble at 59 for 4.
Seasoned Biplab Samantray (62) and Subhranshu Senapati (76) added 145 runs for the 5th wicket as Odisha recovered at one stage to be 204 for five. While Biplab hit eight fours and a six in 112 balls, Senapati hit 10 boundaries in 153 balls.
But a lower-order collapse initiated by left-arm spin duo of Varun Sood (3/23) and Manan Sharma (2/52) saw Odisha lose last five wickets for only 33 runs.
Ishant Sharma, who opened the bowling, sent down 14 overs with a wicket for 29 runs to show for his efforts.
Ishant has now sent down a total of 35 overs in the two innings that he has bowled so far since his comeback after recovering from Chikungunya fever.
More than the wickets he takes, Ishant's fitness and the number of spells that he bowls will be important for the national selectors with the first Test against England, only a fortnight away.
Brief Scores: Odisha 1st Innings 237 (Biplab Samantray 69, Subhranshu Senapati 76; Varun Sood 3/23, Sumit Narwal 2/34, Ishant Sharma 1/29)
Delhi 1st Innings 43/0 (Gautam Gambhir 26 batting).
Hooda smashes unbeaten 190 as Baroda score 358/6 vs Punjab
New Delhi: Indian Premier League star Deepak Hooda hit a career-best unbeaten 190 as Baroda reached a healthy 358 for six in 90 overs against Punjab in a Ranji Trophy group A encounter at the Feroz Shah Kotla, on Thursday.
Hooda, whose sparkling 215-ball knock had 16 boundaries and three sixes, added 178 runs for the third wicket with Dhiren Mistry (76) as Punjab bowlers toiled hard throughout the day.
Barring Sandeep Sharma (4/64 in 20 overs), none of the other bowlers could create an impression as skipper Yuvraj Singh himself bowled five overs.
The other contributor was Pinal Shah (42), with whom Hooda added 80 runs. He also shared an unbroken 59-run stand with Swapnil Singh (29 batting).
Yusuf Pathan (0) edged one from Sandeep to Geetansh Khera behind the stumps.
The day however belonged to Hooda. A clean striker of the ball, the right hander, whose previous best in first-class cricket was 142, was particularly severe on Siddharth Kaul, hitting on both sides of the wicket.
He was severe on left-arm left-arm spinner Vinay Choudhary (0/119 in 25 overs) using his feet to good effect.
He also lofted Gurkeerat Singh for maximums as the Punjab bowlers had to go through the grind.
Brief Scores:Baroda 358/6 (Deepak Hooda 190 batting, Dhiren Mistry 76, Sandeep Sharma 4/64) vs Baroda.
Haryana restrict Andhra to 217/6 on Day 1
Mumbai: Haryana restricted Andhra to 217 for six on day in their Group C Ranji Trophy match at the Wankhede Stadium.
Despite half-centuries from opener DB Prashanth Kumar (74 in 182 balls) and captain G Hanuma Vihari (62 in 120 balls) and their second wicket partnership of 83, Andhra could not seize the initiative.
Haryana opted to field on winning the toss and their wrecker-in-chief was leggie Yuzvendra Chahal, who grabbed 3 for 57, which included the wicket of opener and top scorer Prashanth Kumar, who struck nine fours.
DB Ravi Teja, who shone with the bat in the come from behind win over J&K in their previous game in Mumbai, made 38 in 75 balls.
Pacers Ashish Hooda, Mohit Sharma and Sanjay Pahal were the other wicket takers for Haryana.
Brief scores: Andhra 217 for 6 in 89.1 overs (D B Prashanth Kumar 74, G Hanuma Vihari 62; Y Chahal 3 for 57) v Haryana.
UP bounce back through Imtiaz Ahmed
New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh fought back to reduce Gujarat to 276 for eight on day one of the Ranji Trophy Group A match at the Palam Ground on Thursday.
Gujarat had made an impressive start with openers Samit Gohel (60) and Priyank Kirit Panchal (60) sharing a 122-run stand.
After the fall of the openers, captain Parthiv Patel took the innings forward with a 60 off 70 balls.
Gujarat had a solid platform at 160 for two before UP bounced back towards the close of play. Medium pacer Imtiaz Ahmed was UP's stand out bowler. He sent back both Gujarat openers Gohil and Panchal only to return to add two more wickets to his day's tally.
He removed Rush Kalaria and Chintan Gaja off successive balls in the 87th over to give his side momentum going into day two.
Chirag Gandhi (33 batting) and Hardik Patel were in the middle when stumps were called.
Brief scores: 276/8 in 90 overs (Panchal 60, Gohel 60, Patel 60; Ahmed 4/48). PTI BS
Chhattisgarh on top against Kerala
Jamshedpur: Chhattisgarh grabbed the early initiative as they reduced Kerala to 194/8 on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy Group C match on Thursday.
Electing to bat after winning the toss, Kerala was done in by a middle-order collapse. Pradeep Kumar and Sumit Ruikar shared three wickets each for Chhattisgarh.
For Kerala, skipper Rohan Prem top-scored with a 117-ball 62, which was laced with eight fours and two sixes.
Sanju Samson was the other notable contributor with a 37-ball 41, studded with half a dozen fours and a couple of sixes.
Kerala: 194/8 in 65 overs (Rohan Prem 62, Pankaj Rao 3/35).
Shaikh strikes maiden First-class hundred
Hyderabad: Naushad Shaikh struck his maiden First-class hundred to steer Maharashtra to 280 for three on day one of their Ranji Trophy Group B match against Rajasthan.
Shaikh, playing his third First-class match, remained unbeaten on 118 at stumps alongside Rahul Tripathi (19*).
The other major contribution came from Ankit Bawane, who scored 83.
Veteran pacer Pankaj Singh was the pick of the Rajasthan bowlers, taking two wickets for 38 runs.
Shaikh played 258 balls in his gritty innings, collecting 18 fours and a six.
Bawane, who was dismissed in the 70th over, gave good support to Shaikh as the duo shared a 177-run partnership for the third wicket.
Brief scores: 280 for three in 88 overs (Shaikha 118 batting, Bawne 83; Pankaj Singh 2/38).
Hyderabad grab 2 wickets on rain-hit opening day
Guwahati: Only four overs of play was possible but that was enough for Hyderabad bowlers to strike twice and leave Himachal Pradesh at 8/2 on the opening day of their Ranji Trophy Group C match.
M Ravi Kiran and C V Milind grabbed one wicket apiece to give Hyderabad the edge in just 4.1 overs of play on Thursday.
Nikhil Gangta (4) and Paras Dogra (0) were the batsmen on strike when play was called off due to inclement weather.
Himachal Pradesh: 8/2 in 4.1 overs.
Image: S Aravind of Karnataka exults after completing his five-wicket haul against Assam in their Ranji Trophy match at BKC Grounds in Mumbai on Thursday