Ranji Trophy: Maharashtra dominates on the opening day

Kedar Jadhav smashed Assam all over the park completing his 13th first-class ton to power Maharashtra to 352 for five on the opening day of the Group B Ranji Trophy encounter here on Monday.

Maharashtra's Kedar Jadhav smashed his century of just 96 balls against Assam in the Ranji Trophy Group B match.   -  R. Ragu

Kedar Jadhav smashed Assam all over the park with minimum fuss to power Maharashtra to 352 for five on the opening day of the Group B Ranji Trophy encounter here on Monday.

Back after a successful stint with the Indian team against New Zealand in the ODI series, the 31-year old decided to feast on some ordinary bowling on an easy wicket here at the IIT Chemplast ground on his way to his 13th first-class ton (115) .

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In an exhibition of free wheeling strokeplay Jadhav never missed an opportunity to play his shots as he swept, pulled and lofted the bowlers with ease and abandon.

Walking in at number four, Jadhav wasted no time in getting into action as he lofted off-spinner Swarupam Purkayastha over long on for a six and followed it up with a sweep to the square leg boundary to get his innings going.

Jadhav smashed six boundaries and a six in less than half hour before lunch scoring 36 off just 35 balls. Post lunch, Jadhav continued from where he left off as he brought up his half-century with a late cut through slips off just 48 balls.

He took just as many balls to get to his next fifty as he swept Purkayastha to the fine leg boundary to bring his 100 off just 96 balls. Jadhav smashed two sixes of the off-spinner before he was dismissed caught at the mid-wicket fence.

His aggressive play rubbed onto to his partner Naushad Shaik too as he joined the party in finding the boundaries easily with the duo adding 183 runs for the third wicket off just 193 balls.

In the post-lunch session, Maharashtra added 149 runs in just 28 overs in the second session of play as Maharashtra zoomed to 283 for three. Shaik was on course for a century before he nicked one down the leg side of pacer Abu Nechim three runs short.

Earlier, electing to bat on an easy wicket, skipper and opener Swapnil Gugale set the platform for his side as he and M.S. Trunkwala put on a 54-run partnership for the opening wicket.

Assam got its first breakthrough in the first over of spin when Purkayastha dismissed Trunkwala caught behind trying to cut.

Left-arm spinner J. Syed Mohammed was the best bowler of the day for Assam and it was baffling decision to keep him away from the ball till the second session of play.