Ranji Trophy: Manprit Juneja, Rujul Bhatt help Gujarat take lead against Hyderabad

The duo put on 149 runs for the fifth wicket; Mehdi Hassan takes four wickets.

Manprit Juneja’s brilliant knock (94, 145b, 16x4, 1x6) and his fifth-wicket stand of 149 with gritty southpaw Rujul Bhatt (65, 134b, 4x4) helped Gujarat take the first-innings lead on the second day of the four-day Ranji Trophy Elite Group A match at Rajiv Gandhi Stadium here on Tuesday.

Gujarat finished the day on 295 for nine in reply to Hyderabad’s first-innings score of 233.

Pacer Mohd. Siraj trapped opener Priyank Panchal lbw in the third over of the day before Bhargav Merai (34, 51b, 5x4) and Kathan D. Patel (34, 74, 4x4) put on a 60-run stand for the second wicket. That was the phase when Siraj and Ravi Kiran, Hyderabad's opening bowlers, were erratic and failed to exploit the early morning moisture.

Read | Mumbai on verge of hefty first-innings lead

It was only when left-arm spinner Mehdi Hassan induced a snick to slip cordon to send back a well-set Merai and soon dismissed Patel did Hyderabad come back strongly to leave Gujarat struggling at 99 for four. From then on, Juneja and Bhatt strung together an impressive partnership which pushed the bowling attack on the defensive.

Extravagance

Juneja was a picture of confidence, essaying some extravagant strokes like the straight drive and the flick past mid-wicket off pacer Ravi Kiran. He then swung left-arm spinner Tanay Thayagarajan for a huge six.

Mehdi Hassan celebrates after taking one of his four wickets. Photo: K. V. S. Giri

 

On the other hand, Bhatt was content to be more cautious and in rotating the strike.

It took a brilliant, diving catch to his right by substitute Saaketh Sairam at first slip to deny a thoroughly deserving century to Juneja. The batsman edged, going for a drive on off-stump off Siraj.

Once Juneja was dismissed at 248 for five, the Gujarat innings lost momentum in the face of accurate bowling by Mehdi, who finished the day with a four-wicket haul, and the pace duo of Siraj and Milind making amends.

Brief Scores

Stumps, Day Two: Gujarat 295 for 9 (Manpreet Juneja 94, Rujul Bhatt 65, Mehdi Hassan 4 for 78, Mohd. Siraj 3 for 73) leads Hyderabad 233 by 62 runs.