Ranji Trophy: Gujarat in commanding position on Day one

Gujarat openers Samit Gohil (87) and Priyank Panchal (122 n.o.) put on 172 for the opening wicket as their side finished on 246 for three at stumps on day one of its Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ encounter against Mumbai at the KSCA Stadium here on Monday.

Gujarat's Priyank Panchal scored unbeaten 122 runs on the opening day of the Ranji Trophy match against Mumbai.   -  N.Sudarshan

Gujarat took the honours on day one of its Ranji Trophy Group ‘A’ encounter against Mumbai at the KSCA Stadium here on Monday.

Openers Samit Gohil (87) and Priyank Panchal (122 n.o.) put on 172 for the opening wicket as their side finished on 246 for three at stumps.

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For Panchal, it was his second century of the season, after the second innings ton he scored against Railways on a seaming wicket in Lahli.

“I'm happy,” the 26-year-old said. “They bowled really well. The pacers were really good on track like this. Such an innings was what I was looking for. I was scoring 60s and getting out. But it feels great to score a hundred.”

Mumbai though wouldn’t believe that it is on the mat completely, for, a couple of early wickets on Tuesday morning can bring it right back.

It owes much of this to the disciplined nature of its bowling, predominantly by the pacemen on a visibly unresponsive wicket. It accounted for 41 of the 90 overs bowled and conceded only 84 runs.

The fit-again Dhawal Kulkarni replaced Tushar Deshpande in the eleven and in tandem with Shardul Thakur bowled a stifling line. The first ten overs fetched Gujarat a paltry 16 runs.

On their part, the Gujarat batsmen were up to the task. At no point did they show any sign of desperation. The first few hits to the boundary, as sparse as they were all along the ‘V’, with both batsmen getting right down to the pitch of the ball.

The highlight of it was Gohil dancing down the track to lift left-arm spinner Vishal Dabholkar over the boundary ropes.

As long as he was at the crease, Gohil was the more aggressive of the two openers. From 35 for no loss in 16 overs, Gujarat reached 100 in 31.3 overs with Gohil making the bulk of the runs.

Left-arm spinner Aditya Dhumal, who had a wonderful debut against Uttar Pradesh in Mysuru, bore the brunt of it, leaking 35 runs in eight overs before lunch.

Panchal though, widened his range as the match wore on, collecting runs square of the wicket too by slashing the odd short ball to the boundary.

Dabholkar’s double-wicket strike to dismiss Gohil and Bhargav Merai (0) in a space of three balls did nothing to stymie Panchal’s pursuit as he duly brought up his century in the 77th over.

With Panchal on 102, Dhumal missed a half-chance by failing to cling on to the ball off his own bowling. Apart from that it was a chanceless innings.