Ranji Trophy: Hyderabad takes upper hand

On the third day that featured 18 wickets, Hyderabad held the upper hand in its Ranji Trophy Group C encounter against Chhattisgarh with an overall lead of 278 runs.

Pankaj Kumar Rao took 4 for 37 to help reduce Hyderabad to 115 for 9 in its second innings.   -  PTI

Bowlers dominated proceedings at the Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel stadium to set up an interesting last day’s play in the Ranji Trophy Group C tie between Chhattisgarh and Hyderabad.

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Eighteen wickets tumbled for the addition of just 178 runs on a surface that continued to assist bowlers - especially pacers - on the third day. Despite losing batsmen in heaps up front, Hyderabad’s tail, led by Akash Bhandari, ensured that the southern Indian team will fancy its chances of earning six points from the game.

At the end of the penultimate day, Hyderabad, in addition to its hefty 163-run lead, was 115 for nine, with an overall advantage of 278.

Chhattisgarh started the day at 124 for one, in quest of Hyderabad’s first-innings total of 351. However, C.V. Milind started the day with a double blow to the batting side. The Hyderabad left-arm seamer saw the back of Abhimanyu Chauhan off the second ball of the day, thanks to a brilliant catch at gully by B. Sandeep. Three balls later, he forced Amandeep Khare to nick one to wicketkeeper Habeeb Ahmed.

Kept on a leash

An out-of-sorts Chhattisgarh middle-order could never recover from there as the Hyderabad pace triumvirate maintained the pressure created by Milind. The first session saw Hyderabad picking seven wickets for just 39 runs, with leggie Akash Bhandari accounting for Manoj Singh at the stroke of the break.

Bhandari wiped off the tail in just 22 balls after the break. Once Hyderabad skipper S. Badrinath opted against enforcing follow-on, Pankaj Rao and Abhishek Tamrakar took a cue from their Hyderabad counterparts.

Rao cleaned up the openers Benjamin Thomas and Akshath Reddy. Reddy opened in the absence of Tanmay Agarwal, who was taken to hospital for a precautionary scan after receiving a blow on his helmet while fielding at short-leg. Tamrakar got the prize scalp of Badrinath, whose extravagant drive resulted in Ashutosh Singh latching on to a sharp catch at point. The wicket opened the floodgates as Hyderabad was reduced to 68 for eight from 34 for one.

Bhandari and Mohammad Siraj then added 34 runs for the ninth wicket before the latter edged Rao to ’keeper Manoj.