Naushad Shaikh cracked his seventh first-class century (145 batting, 219b, 20x4) in his 34th match to help Maharashtra score a challenging 353 for five against Hyderabad at close of play on the first day of the four-day Ranji Trophy Elite Group B match at MCA Stadium here on Tuesday.
As has been the trend with Hyderabad captain Tanmay Agarwal this season, Maharashtra was put in to bat first.
Initially, it looked worth a gamble when pacer T. Ravi Teja trapped Ruturaj Gaikwad (8) lbw in the third over and his new-ball partner, Kartikeya Kak, forced Saurabh Nawale (29) to give a catch to Rahul Radesh in the eighth over to leave the home team at 48 for two.
But to the captain’s dismay, Hyderabad bowlers ran into a stubborn No.3 batter Naushad who strung together two century partnerships to dent Hyderabad’s hopes of coming back into the game on the first day.
Naushad first joined hands with Kedar Jadhav (71, 92b, 9x4, 1x6) to put on 128 runs off 174 balls for the third wicket and then added an unbroken 121-run stand off 193 balls for the sixth wicket with Ashay Palkar (61 batting, 115b, 9x4) to virtually push Hyderabad on the backfoot.
But for the three-wicket haul by pacer Kak, who got rid of Jadhav and later Azim Kazi (11), it would have been a more pitiable story for Hyderabad bowlers.
Pacer B. Punnaiah and left-arm spinner Aniketh Reddy, who claimed a seven-wicket haul in the previous game against Saurashtra, went wicketless.