Ranji Trophy: Bawne, Motwani shine for Maharashtra

Ankit Bawne led from the front with a resolute 92; Amit Mishra, Karan Thakur claim two wickets each for Railways.

Had Bawne not fiddled with Karan Thakur with 17 balls remaining in the day, Maharashtra would have had the upper hand.   -  VIVEK BENDRE

 

Ankit Bawne led from the front with a resolute 92 (184b, 12x4, 1x6). Rohit Motwani fought his way to an unbeaten 52 (115b, 6x4). Still, Railways will not be disheartened with its decision to put Maharashtra in to bat after winning the toss on a Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium surface with an even grass covering.

Thanks to Bawne's twin partnerships of 81 and 95 with Naushad Shaikh (37, 86b, 6x4) and Motwani for the fourth and fifth wicket, respectively, Maharashtra was placed at 249 for five at the end of the opening day's play.

Scorecard

Had Bawne not fiddled with Karan Thakur with 17 balls remaining in the day, Maharashtra would have had the upper hand.

When Bawne took guard minutes after the first drinks interval, Maharashtra's third opening pair in as many games had been dismantled. Murtaza Trunkwala's return to top-flight was short-lived as he edged Amit Mishra to the 'keeper in the eighth over. Moreover, Rahul Tripathi, who was promoted to No. 3 and had been scoring at will, also perished due to a dubious leg-before decision by umpire Virender Sharma.

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Even when Bawne hadn't really got his eye in, Ruturaj Gaikwad, the other opener, perished, thanks to seasoned Anureet Singh's persistent line and length. At 71 for three, Maharashtra was in danger of folding up for a low score for the second week in succession. However, captain Bawne then found an ally in Shaikh. While Bawne left the ball well, punishing the four-pronged seam attack whenever the bowlers erred on the fuller side, Shaikh groomed in confidence, hitting two on-drives in Mishra's successive overs. Shaikh, however, committed hara-kiri off the same bowler moments later, offering Mahesh Rawat his second catch.

With Motwani struggling at the start, Bawne took the lead. After completing his fifty with an on-drive off Manish Rao, Bawne started upping the ante. Motwani, too, started playing freely, cutting and flicking Thakur in the same over. The only time the duo was in danger of being separated was when Motwani sent Bawne back after calling him over for a single in the same over. But Saurabh Wakaskar missed the aim from the covers and Bawne continued his march till Thakur was rewarded at the fag end!

Would have been happier with four wickets down but another 100 runs and we are in the game on this pitch

— Ankit Bawne, Maharashtra captain

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