Assam’s gamble of putting former champion, Hyderabad, in to bat paid off in the first session but the latter recovered well thanks to a 157-run stand for the fifth wicket between southpaw B. Sandeep and captain Ambati Rayudu to post a more challenging 289 for eight at close of play on the first day of the Ranji Trophy Group A match at the Barsapara Stadium here on Friday.

Pacer Arup Das came up with an impressive spell in bowler-friendly conditions to have the visiting side reeling at 32 for four in the ninth over during which he removed opener Akshath Reddy (5), wicketkeeper batsman K. Sumanth (0) and Tanmay Agarwal (27). However, once the sun was out and the pitch easing up considerably, Sandeep (84, 122b, 12x4) and captain Rayudu (83, 152b, 9x4, 1x6) dented Assam’s hopes of restricting their team to a modest total.

Match Centre

Clearly, Arup, who quit his Railways job as he was not getting chances and preferred to come back to his home State, was the star performer bowling a splendid line and length. In between, his new-ball partner, Rajjakuddin Ahmed, cut short left-arm spinner Mehdi Hasan’s promotion by trapping him lbw, on the shuffle.

Hyderabad was clearly staring at disaster at one stage and owed its fightback to Rayudu and the gutsy Sandeep who strung together a partnership, which could prove to be decisive as the match progresses.

The normally dogged Sandeep opened up to play a few adventurous strokes and showed his class, too, hitting pacer Rajjakuddin for three fours in one over.

At the other end, Ambati Rayudu was all class personified from the word go as he treated the spearhead Arup with disdain on-driving him and then playing an exquisite cover drive.

Just when it looked this duo would carry on, Sandeep stepped back only to miss his attempted cut off left-arm spinner Rahul Singh to be bowled in the 50th over and soon the bowler struck another big blow, inducing hesitant footwork from Rayudu who was bowled in his attempt to play a loose shot in the 58th over.

These two quick blows brought Assam back in the game as Hyderabad was reduced to 212 for six. But, again, two defiant knocks by T. Ravi Teja (31, 67b, 4x4, 1x6) before he was run out going for a non-existent single, and Akash Bhandari (43 batting, 81b, 4x4) pushed the home team on the backfoot in the final session before bad light stopped play.