Ranji Trophy 2023-24: Gangta’s century puts Himachal in control against Pondicherry on Day 1

Gangta’s sedate hundred off 224 deliveries helped Himachal make the most of the batting-friendly conditions and end Day 1 at 272/4.

Published : Feb 16, 2024 17:43 IST , PUDUCHERRY - 2 MINS READ

FILE PHOTO: Nikhil Gangta in action during the Duleep Trophy in 2018.
FILE PHOTO: Nikhil Gangta in action during the Duleep Trophy in 2018. | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

FILE PHOTO: Nikhil Gangta in action during the Duleep Trophy in 2018. | Photo Credit: JOTHI RAMALINGAM B

Nikhil Gangta’s marathon 100 got Himachal Pradesh off to a solid start on the first day of the Ranji Trophy Group D fixture against Pondicherry at the Siachem Stadium on Friday.

Gangta trusted his front-foot defence, played with a straight bat and punched off the backfoot to make the most of batting-friendly conditions. He reached the three-figure mark with a lofted cover-drive off his 224th ball in the last over and closed the day with his team at 272 for four.

But the bowlers - both pacers and spinners - did extract bounce off the wicket to keep themselves interested. To utilise the early morning mist, Pondicherry opted to bowl, and struck early. Seamer Pankaj Yadav cleaned up opener Ravi Thakur (11) in the sixth over of the day.

Pankaj, along with Gaurav Yadav, operated on a good length and kept the outside edge in play in the first hour. But Prashant Chopra, along with captain Ankit Kalsi (22), dropped anchor and waited for the poor balls to pounce. The boundaries didn’t come often, but with the bowlers straying on the pads or giving too much width helped the batters rotate strike.

Left-arm spinner Sidak Singh made use of the bounce on offer and troubled the batters from one end. But it was home captain Rohit Damodaran from the other end who got his counterpart leg-before to provide his team a breakthrough.

Sidak continued to keep the edge in play when right handers - Prashant and Gangta - paired up for the third wicket. He finally struck after Lunch, trapping Prashant (61) in front with a straighter one.

However, the pitch eased out as the day progressed, making Gangta and Akash Vashisht’s 151-ball stay relatively more comfortable. With the bowlers now operating on fuller lengths, Himachal’s batters found it easy to play their shots, rotate strike, as well as defend confidently.

Gaurav struck right after Tea to remove Akash (35) but Pondicherry’s bowlers couldn’t consolidate, allowing Gangta and Rishi Dhawan to add 78 runs for the fifth wicket before Stumps.

Himachal Pradesh 272/4 (Prashant Chopra 61, Nikhil Gangta 100 n.o.) vs Pondicherry.
Toss: Pondicherry.
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