Duleep Trophy: Ankit Rajpoot shines for India Green

The seamer takes three wickets to help check the progress of India Red, which finished Day One on 230 for six.

Ankit Rajpoot of India Green celebrates after taking a wicket on day one of Duleep Trophy.   -  B. Jothi Ramalingam

India’s new domestic cricket season got off to an absorbing start on an overcast day.

By the time it ended, under a dark, starless sky at the NPR College Ground, batsman Ashutosh Singh and seamer Ankit Rajpoot had displayed their wares with bat and ball, respectively, as India Red scored 230 for six against India Green in the Duleep Trophy.

Earlier, Abhinav Mukund could be pardoned if he felt this could be his day. He called the toss correctly, chose to bat and looked in good touch. His partner, Sanjay Ramaswamy, fresh from his 87 for Indian Board President’s XI against South Africa A at Bengaluru a couple of weeks ago, seemed in even better form. The Vidarbha batsman played some lovely strokes square of the wicket, on either side, and helped the opening stand reach 50 in a little over an hour.

Rajpoot sizzles

But when the score was on 69, Rajpoot, in his second over after changing ends, had Abhinav edging to the first slip. The tall seamer then had Sanjay lbw with a straight ball. It was a fine spell of speed and bounce by the man who had impressed at the recent edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Kings XI Punjab.

Baba Aparajith and Ashutosh (57, 223min, 194b, 2x4) ensured that no further damage was done, taking their team to 93 for two at the end of the opening session. But on resumption, Aparajith was snapped up in the slip by his twin brother Baba Indrajith off a rising ball from seamer K. Vignesh.

India Green then faced a mini crisis when Jalaj Saxena, the most successful all-rounder in the domestic cricket over the last few years, had Writtick Chatterjee leg-before-wicket. The Indore-born Kerala off-spinner, who was the leading Ranji Trophy bowler with 44 wickets last season, reduced India Red to 137 for four.

But in wicketkeeper Akshay Wadkar, Ashutosh found a partner who was willing to stay on and frustrate the bowlers. They added 61 for the fifth wicket before Wadekar was bowled by the part-time spin of Prashant Chopra.

Then, with the second new ball, Rajpoot had Shahbaz Nadeem caught in the slip by Gurkeerat Mann, to make it a satisfying day for his team. The unit was led impressively by wicketkeeper Parthiv Patel, who shuffled the bowlers well.

The scores
  • India Red – Ist Innings: Sanjay Ramaswamy lbw b Rajpoot 37, Abhinav Mukund c Chopra b Rajpoot 34, Baba Aparajith c Indrajith b Vignesh 23, Ashutosh Singh (batting) 57, Writtick Chatterjee lbw b Saxena 22, Akshay Wadkar b Chopra 29, Shahbaz Nadeem c Mann b Rajpoot 17, Rajneesh Gurbani (batting) 6, Extras (nb-2, w-3) 5; Total (for six wkts. in 90 overs) 230.
  • Fall of wickets: 1-69, 2-80, 3-114, 4-137, 5-198, 6-221.
  • India Green bowling: Ashoke Dinda 11-1-20-0, Ankit Rajpoot 17-4-38-3, K. Vignesh 18-0-64-1, Vikas Mishra 22-6-49-0, Jalaj Saxena 17-3-42-1, Prashant Chopra 5-0-17-1.