Ranji Trophy: Prashant leads Himachal from the front

Himachal Pradesh skipper scored a sublime century to help his team post 231/4 against Hyderabad on the first day of a Ranji Trophy Group-B match.

Himachal Pradesh skipper Prashant Chopra celebrates his century against Hyderabad.   -  V.V. Subhramanyam

Prashant Chopra led from the front, literally. The Himachal Pradesh captain not only won a crucial toss but also batted his way to an impressive century (110, 190balls, 16x4, 1x6) and his opening partnership of 178 with Priyanshu Khanduri helped his team score 231/4 at close of play against Hyderabad on the first day of the Ranji Trophy Group-B league match at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Wednesday.

With Khanduri preferring to play a perfect second fiddle backed by solid defence for most of the pre-lunch session, 26-year-old Chopra had the liberty to unleash some flowing drives on either side of the wicket — both against pace and spin.

As the day's action unfolded

The opening pair kept the Hyderabad bowling attack at bay on a pitch which looked similar to the one played against Delhi — with little help to the bowlers but for the early morning moisture assisting the pacers.

The three-man pace attack of Ravi Kiran, Mohammed Mudassar and T. Ravi Teja tested the openers a few times but never really threatened to dominate.

And, left-arm spinner Mehdi Hasan was disappointed to see the lone slip, Tanmay Agarwal, fail to react in time when Chopra was on 63. Soon, the batsman survived a very confident caught-behind appeal off Ravi Kiran and off the next ball Rohit Rayudu fail to latch on to a difficult chance off an uppish cut.

But for these couple of lapses, it was Chopra show all the way as he held the innings together and looked good enough to bat through the day. However, a brilliant airborne, one-handed catch near the long-off fence by Mudassir of what seemed to be a beautifully timed lofted stroke off left-arm spinner Tanay Thyagarajan saw his innings come to an end.

Hyderabad come back strongly in the final session picking three wickets with Mehdi dismissing wicketkeeper-batsman Ankush Bains, caught behind of the first ball after tea break, and Ravi Kiran inducing Khanduri for a similar mode of dismissal.

Later, Ravi Teja cleaned up Nikhil Gangta to ensure a far better ending for the home team.

The scores

Himachal Pradesh (1st innings): Priyanshu Khanduri c Sumanth b Ravi Kiran 59, Prashant Chopra c Mudassir b Thyagarajan 110, Ankit Bains c Sumanth b Mehdi 13, Nikhil Gangta b Ravi Teja 21, Sumeet Verma (batting) 8.

Extras: (lb-7, nb-12, 2-1) 20.

Total: (for four wkts in 90 overs) 231.

Fall of wickets: 1-178, 2-199, 3-205, 4-231.

Hyderabad bowling: Ravi Kiran 15-5-33-1, Mudassir 14-2-35-0, Ravi Teja 13-2-53-1, Mehdi Hasan 23-8-48-1, Thyagarajan 25-8-55-1.